The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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The house was packed. It was busier than it had been at any of their other parties and it was putting Jase on edge. Madison still wasn’t downstairs. She was sat in front of the mirror when he went up to her bedroom.

“You not coming down?” he asked, taking in what she was wearing; his white t-shirt and a pair of joggers. That alone answered his question though he wasn’t about to get on at her about looking nice tonight. She rolled her shoulders. She could hear how crowded it was and she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a part of it. “Come on, it’ll be good for you to socialise a bit.” Her eyes flickered over to him. That same absent look on her face, the callousness as to whether she was around or not. With a sigh, she scooted off of the bed, walking past him. “You don’t have to stay down for long,” he assured. She didn’t reply. Jase placed his hand on her lower back as he guided her through the people to the table where she sat with her knees pulled up to her chest. Looking every bit as miserable and uncomfortable as she felt. Everyone was chewing their jaw, sweating against one another. Her eyes were drawn to Charlie when she felt him staring at her. He was taking mouthfuls from his bottle of beer, not breaking eye contact. She had completely forgotten about him. Jase was dealing. People came over, swapping money for little bags of white powder and even a few pills here and there. But she wouldn’t take her eyes away from Charlie for long. The way he was unmoving was disturbing her, making her skin crawl.

Jase nudged her.

“You okay?” he asked. She nodded. The last thing she needed was him making a scene by roughing Charlie up for being intimidating, Mitch didn’t need any more ammunition. But she was also spent, being around so many people wasn’t on her list of things she wanted to do right now. She wanted to sleep, clear her head. Devise a plan. She wanted to do what she was good at.

“There are so many people here,” she said, Jase smiled a little.

“Is it making you uncomfortable?” She looked over to Charlie but he had gone. She nodded. “You can go up if you like, you don’t have to stay down here, not if you really don’t want to.” Without another word, she left everyone to it. Filtering through all the gyrating bodies and towards her safe haven.

An ominous feeling shrouded her when she walked into the darkness of the bedroom. The door shut without her touching it and the lights were turned on. She jumped, spinning to see Charlie leaning his back up against the door, grinning as he reached down by his side, flicking the lock. She froze.

“You look like someone had a lot of fun with you,” he said, nodding to the shiny pink scars up and down her forearms where Adam had continuously pressed lit cigarettes into her skin.

“Don’t be an idiot, Charlie,” she said, hoping she sounded in control but her voice came out as a quivering plea. He laughed.

“Why? Because of Jase?” Madison looked around the room, there was nothing on the desk that could be used as a weapon. Her feet were cemented to the floor. “No one’s scared of Jase anymore. Not since Mitch came onto the scene, calling Jase’s bluff on everything.” He was stepping closer to her as he spoke, his hands sliding over his belt as he slowly pulled it from the buckle. Madison’s stomach twisted; her heart was clawing its way up her throat. “You must be something special if you’ve got Jase tripping up over you.”

“Don’t touch me,” she growled, feeling every muscle in her body tense. But she couldn’t move.

“I’ll do what I want because unlike your little boyfriend downstairs, I don’t care about your precious feelings-” his hands reached out to her, she attempted to bat them away but he grabbed her arms, pressing down on the semi healed wounds and causing her to yelp. Charlie shoved her backwards onto the bed, dodging her kicks as he grabbed the jogger bottoms that wouldn’t put up much resistance to being pulled off.

“Leave me alone!” Madison screamed, trying to scramble up the bed away from him. Her hands found the pillows and she started throwing them at him in an attempt to give her enough time to escape from his grip. He just laughed at her. Then her hand brushed over something hard. She patted over it, recognising the shape.

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