The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Jase was half sat up, the daylight spilling in around the sides of the curtains. Madison was asleep in his lap. He thought about Peter begging, the tears and snot streaming down his sweaty red face and he felt nothing because for now, Madison had peace. One less thing to worry about.

But where did he go from here?

Shuffling out from beneath Madison, he pulled his joggers on, leaving her to sleep. Sam was in the kitchen. He looked up briefly from the newspaper, just long enough to acknowledge Jase.

“Did you tell her?” he asked before clocking the scratch marks down Jase’s back. “Never mind.” Jase switched the kettle on, taking a mug down from the cupboard. “Leaving the Madison topic to cool off, what are we doing about Mitch?” Jase chewed his lip. He’d been so distracted with Madison that he’d barely had time to think about McKinney. “It’s been a few weeks since we’ve heard anything, it’s making me nervous,” Sam pressed on. He was right, the silence was suspicious and it didn’t look good that Jase had taken a cut to the hand and essentially done nothing about it.

“We’ll think of something. He can’t be in hiding forever, he’ll get impatient with us doing nothing right now, let him stew. People don’t like sitting in silence, they feel like they need to talk to fill it and he’ll do something to fill this.”

“Do you not think we should act before he does?” Sam asked, slightly irritated with Jase’s blasé attitude towards the situation. Jase sipped his coffee, staring over the rim at his friend.

“If I thought acting would be the best idea then I’d have done it, wouldn’t I? I want things to die down. I want him to scheme because at some point, he’s likely to slip up and let his ego get in the way-”

“Why don’t we just kill him?”

“Can’t kill anyone when you don’t know where they are. We have to lure him out. He’ll be careful getting in cars now and it’s unlikely he’ll be leaving wherever he is much because he’ll be pranging the fuck out that he’s being watched. Patience, Sammy boy. It’s never done me wrong before.” Sam wasn’t happy about it, but Jase was the boss. They remained in the kitchen whilst Jase messaged out for shots to be dropped and ticks to be picked up before he left to head into town.

Madison had been awake for a little while when the bedroom door opened and Jase walked in with a sparkly paper bag.

“Happy Birthday,” he said, handing it over. Madison’s brows furrowed as she reached into it, pulling out a thick book. Her lips curved as her hand brushed over the glossy title; Dangerous Lady, a Martina Cole book.

“You didn’t have to get me anything,” she said, Jase shrugged, huffing and laying down on the bed, rubbing his face.

“I know, but it saves you from being bored all the time.” She was sat up next to him, leaning down and planting a soft kiss on his lips.

“Thank you.” He hummed in response, seeming distracted. “Is everything okay?” Jase looked up at her, running his tongue over his lips before he sighed, nodding.

“Yeah, just a lot going on at the minute.” Madison frowned. It was strange, now that they’d had sex. She felt inclined to value his feelings and wellbeing more so than before, it’s as if it opened up a new level of care between them.

“Anything I can help with?” He breathed a small laugh, amused at her for thinking she would be of any use in the house matters. As smart as she was, this was not a game women were cut out to play. They let their feelings get in the way most of the time and Madison wasn’t exempt from that, regardless of the glint in her eyes at times. Hence those women remained in fictional crime books like the one he had bought her. Her eager-to-please attitude was endearing, though, especially since he knew it was real and not just a ploy. He reached up, tucking her hair behind her ear.

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about anything that goes on in the house, I’ll deal with it.” The spark in him seemed dull in comparison to how it had been. Madison recognised it as tiredness but not the same tiredness that would be solved if he went back to bed. He was burnt out with everything that was going on, and it was evident, there wasn’t even an attempt to hide it. Whatever it was that was bothering him, being transparent with how he felt was never a good sign, you had to be able to keep a poker face through everything around here. People could take advantage of his downtime and if people took advantage of Jase and it worked in their favour, it could compromise her own safety. Which was still paramount. Whilst she knew he may care about her, there was nothing guaranteed to last in the house, no time to relax. Something could happen at any minute.

She needed to help kick the life back into him so he could think straight.

With a small smile, Madison moved so that she was straddling him.

“Maybe I can’t help with house matters, but I could help with other things...” her suggestive tone was enough to make Jase smirk, his hands finding their place on her waist.

“What did you have in mind?” She giggled, sending shivers up his spine. The mere insinuation was enough to reboot his entire system as he lifted his chin, looking at her through half-lidded eyes, his tongue running over his lower lip. Madison crossed her arms over, holding the bottom hem of the t-shirt she had on and slowly peeled it off.

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