The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Jase stood in the doorway, staring at Madison. Her lip had stopped bleeding, the blood was shiny with stickiness as it coagulated over the broken skin. There were so many bruises that it was difficult to tell where one ended and another began. There were even handprint bruises over her arms where Adam had probably dragged her kicking and screaming from the bedroom.

“Madison,” he said softly, she didn’t respond, staring blankly at the wall. He walked over, sitting down beside her carefully. She flinched when he moved her hair away from her face. “Hey, it’s fine, I’m not going to hurt you,” he assured.

“I didn’t know,” she whispered.

“I know.” She was in a state of shock, it was no use trying to get information out of her right now. “We’ll talk about it later. Right now, you need to clean the burns so they don’t get infected. I’m going to run you a bath, okay?” She didn’t respond but he wasn’t exactly looking for a reply. He left her in the room, turning both taps on above the tub, swirling the water with his hand to make sure it wouldn’t be too hot. Madison let him lead her to the bathroom, leaving her to get undressed and get in whilst he went to get a fresh flannel. She sat in the water, holding her knees to her chest, her eyes glassed over. Jase sat on the side of the bath, dipping the flannel in and taking one of her arms. He gently dabbed over the burns. Madison jerked a little but she didn’t complain. The adrenalin coursing through her body would have made a decent anaesthetic.

“I didn’t know,” she said again. Jase just nodded, ringing the ashy bloody flannel and cleaning up her lips as well. Her hair was crisp with dry sweat and probably more blood. He used a beaker to wet it and took his time properly rinse out the shampoo and conditioner he’d put in. She didn’t cry, she didn’t talk. The lights were on but no one was home. Considering what she’d already been through, Jase could only imagine what Adam had done to turn her into this. He kissed the top of her head.

“Come on,” he said, pulling a towel from the heated rail and standing up. He wrapped it around her, letting her sit on the bed back in the room as he pulled a hoodie and joggers from the wardrobe. Once she was dressed, he sat behind her, brushing her hair and using the towel to dry it as best as he could. “Get some sleep.” She didn’t reject his instructions like she had before. She just nodded, laying down on top of the sheets. Jase turned the lamp on for her and the main light off, leaving the room in a softer yellow glow before he went downstairs. Sam, Kieran and Tommy were still in the living room.

“If Adam comes back into this house, he won’t be leaving alive,” he said, lighting a cigarette.

“Did she explain anything?” Sam asked,

“She’s not in any state to talk right now,” Jase waved his hand over his face, “there’s nothing there.”

“What do you reckon the actual story is?” Kieran questioned; Jase just shrugged.

“Fucked if I know, could be anything. I know that Madison isn’t a total stranger to all of this stuff. She’s too clued up on it and from the sounds of her dad, this kind of thing isn’t a far cry from her childhood. It’s not exactly a shock that she knows someone in this line of work.”

“Do you reckon she is friends with Mitch?” Sam continued. Jase pursed his lips. He couldn’t decide if that would be good or bad. If they were, it would really test where her loyalties lied when he questioned her about it and he wasn’t sure how he’d react if they weren’t in his favour. But the picture was old, they still needed to find out who the other boy was and the context of the photograph.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.” Some fucking eighteenth she was having. Even if she was friends with Mitch, Jase was livid that Adam had tried to take things into his own hands. That wasn’t his responsibility.

Jase chain-smoked for the rest of the night, unable to bring himself to go upstairs and see her like that. Eventually, Kieran and Tommy left and it was just him and Sam.

“What are we going to do if she is friends with Mitch? You reckon Mitch will want to call a truce?” Sam asked. Jase thought about it for a second. If Mitch knew about Madison then it was likely he knew that Jase had been keeping her out of harm’s way, something that would have been compromised by sending that picture. Safety for Madison wasn’t something Mitch was looking for. In all honestly, he didn’t know what Mitch was trying to achieve from all of this.

“No. No, I think he’s trying to dig out a weakness. It’s a matter of why Madison was an important card for him to play. What difference does it make?” Sam chewed his lip. There were too many questions that couldn’t be answered until Madison spoke. And that wasn’t going to happen tonight, he wouldn’t waste his time trying to figure out everything by himself.


I love how interactive you're all being and all your speculations, keep them coming!

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