The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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“Where are we going?” Sam asked, yawning. It was just coming up to three in the morning. They were sat in Jase’s car on a bridge, smoking cigarettes.

“It’s Madison’s birthday today,” Jase said in monotone. Sam nodded slowly.

“She goes to Peter today?” he questioned hesitantly. Jase looked at him with a blank expression then turned back to stare out of the windscreen, there was a slow rain coming down, blurring his vision of the outside.

“She’s been crying all day,” he took a drag on his cigarette, “I don’t like seeing her like that.”

“You won’t have to after today,” Sam replied, though he had a feeling he knew where this was going. He’d watched Jase shoot people point blank for stuttering at the wrong time, it was unlike him to hesitate at anything.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking,” he said. Sam remained silent, waiting. “I don’t think I can let her go to Peter.”

“Jase-” Sam shook his head but Jase cut him off.

“I know. We have a job to do. And I know one day, she’ll have to start working but I don’t think she’s ready.”

“You mean you’re not ready,” Sam said daringly. Jase looked at him again, thinking for a second before he nodded, running his hand over his stubble. He tipped his head back and took a deep breath.

“I guess I’m not.” He closed his eyes and as expected, Madison was smiling behind his lids.

“What are you saying?” Sam said. Jase opened his eyes, staring at the felt interior of the roof of his car. He let the silence sit between them before replying.

“I’m saying I think both my plan and her plan may have worked a little too well.”

“Jesus Christ,” Sam sighed. But he knew to take him seriously, they’d known each other long enough and this wasn’t a side of Jase he’d ever seen. “What about Peter?”

“That’s what we’re dealing with tonight.” He flicked the cigarette butt out of his window just as he received a text from Peter. He’d messaged him under the guise that they were taking him to Madison tonight.

They picked him up from around the corner of the train station. Jase had told him not to bring his car because if anything happened and he was seen, it would make him a suspect. As expected, Peter was too much of a sweaty blubbering idiot to ask any questions. He got in the back of the car, a grin on his face that turned Jase’s stomach.

“Evening Jase. Sam, nice to see you,” he greeted cheerily. Sam nodded at him but Jase said nothing. “I thought this day would never come,” Peter continued, unperturbed by the ominous atmosphere in the car. “Is she scared? Does she know I’m coming? She’ll probably be a little more relaxed if she sees it’s me. Someone she knows. Then she’ll at least know I’ll be gentle with her. You always have to gentle with them, the virgins. You know what I’m on about, don’t you boys?” Jase and Sam looked at each other from the corner of their eyes. It was taking every fibre of Jase’s being to refrain from taking his gun out and killing him right then. He looked in his rear-view mirror as Peter continued to ramble. He was nervous. Mind, anyone that got into a car with Sam and Jase usually was.

They drove for around twenty minutes, pulling round to the back of a bust in warehouse on the outskirts of town in the middle of nowhere. It had been used for plenty of shifty business which was perfect for what they were planning to do. “What are we doing here?” Peter asked.

“We’ve moved Madison here so that you can visit her whenever you want rather than having to come to the house. If we get raided, it’ll save you from being tied to anything.” Jase lied. It wasn’t even something they’d consider doing but Peter knew no better and accepted his words as gospel. But it was obvious that he didn’t want to get out of the car. He sensed something was off but he was too much of a desperate, scared pig to say anything. He lacked in masculinity in so many different ways. He didn’t even deserve someone like Madison.

Sam led the way, pushing on the semi caved-in door at the back of the building, opening it and allowing Peter to go ahead. He hesitantly stepped in, following the directions Sam was reciting to him.

“Just in there,” he instructed. Peter opened a door into a small room, looking around, confused. There was a computer desk in the corner and some sheets of paper over the floor, several different muddy footprints all over them. The whole place smelled of blood, like mincemeat that had been left on the kitchen side for a few hours too long and there was an earthy undertone. Rats could be heard scuttling around in the corridors surrounding them and a window was open somewhere, allowing the wind to create a soft howl throughout the building. The subtle patter of rain and trickling from broken gutters could be heard in the distance.

“I don’t understand, where’s Madison?” Peter asked, turning to face Jase as he drew his gun from the back of his waistband. Peter’s eyes flared as he pulled the slider back.

“She’s not coming. And neither are you.”

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