It was late afternoon before Jack returned to his office. He’d grown weary of the City with all of its traffic and noise and just wanted a shot of bourbon to take the edge off. So far, he had a widow not acting like a widow, a night club singer who was more vulnerable than she’d let on and a slippery crook that he couldn’t pin a damn thing on. If he was a betting man, and he’d been known to place a few, he’d swear that this deck of cards he’d been dealt was stacked against him. Jack laughed at his own silly notions as he opened the door to his business, longing for that drink.
“Hey Dani,” Jack said as he took off his over-coat, suit jacket and loosened his tie.
The redhead looked up at him and nodded, the phone receiver tucked between her ear and shoulder as she shuffled some papers. “Sure thing, Bobby. He just arrived, so I will let him know. Be careful,” she concluded as she hung up the phone.
“What’s up?” Jack asked as he noticed the concerned look on Dani’s face.
“Bobby’s in Las Vegas.”
Jack walked over to his office door and turned around. “Las Vegas? What the hell is he doing there?”
Dani stood up and followed Jack into his office. She went to his desk and opened it as Jack tossed his coat and jacket on the sofa. She took out two glasses and the bottle of bourbon, poured a shot in each glass and handed one to Jack.
“Angelo,” she said and then downed her drink. She filled up her shot glass again.
“Hey girl, take it easy.” Jack sat his full glass on the desk and put an arm around Dani’s shoulder. He took the shot glass from her hand and sat it down. “What’s got you so frazzled?”
Dani sighed. “I’m surprised you aren’t,” she said as she looked up at her boss. “He’s only twenty-five, Jack. Should he really be doing this kind of dangerous work?”
Jack led Dani over to a chair, sat her down and then went behind his desk. “Start from the beginning, Dani. You know I don’t follow you when you are upset.”
Dani waited until Jack had sat down and then she looked up at him, her green eyes filled with tears. “Angelo went to Las Vegas. Tito Russo and two other suits are with him. Bobby figured you’d want him to keep his tail on Angelo, so he went too.”
Jack slammed a fist down on his desk. “That foolhardy kid! He should know I can’t protect him in Vegas. How long has he been gone?”
Dani reached for her glass, cupped it in her trembling hands. “Apparently, they left shortly after I got back to the office. Bobby called me from the airport, said he already had his ticket and was about to board the plane.” She drank the bourbon, sat the glass back on the desk, and then leaned back in the chair. “I tried to dissuade him, Jack, but that kid is stubborn. Just like you,” she interjected.
Jack laughed lightly and finally drank his bourbon. “He’s a smart kid, for the most part, Dani. He knows how to tail someone without getting caught. So I take it when he just called, they’d landed in Vegas?”
Dani nodded. “Angelo checked into the Sands and Bobby is staying nearby in a cheap hotel.”
Jack chuckled and pretended to wipe sweat off of his forehead. “At least the kid won’t cost me a fortune while he is there.”
Dani jumped out of her chair and stormed around the room. “This isn’t funny, Jack! You of all people know how dangerous Angelo is. For God’s sake, he murdered Mason the last time you tangled with him!”
Mason Peters had been Jack’s partner in the PI firm when they first began. He’d also been Dani’s on again, off again boyfriend. It was true. Angelo had murdered Mason, or at the very least, he had Tito do it. There was just no evidence to pin it on him. Mason’s car had exploded in the middle of the case, and they all knew it was Angelo’s doing.
Jack shook his head and went to Dani, pulled her into his arms and patted her on the back. “Hush,” he whispered into her ear. “I know you still blame me for Mason’s murder and there is nothing I can do about that, but Dani, Bobby is a good kid and he’s smart. He’ll be okay.”
Dani pulled herself out of Jack’s arms. “He’d better be, Jack!”
Jack patted Dani on the back, playfully this time. “Be a good girl and order us some dinner. I have a feeling this will be a long evening.”
Dani wiped the tears from her eyes and nodded. She wouldn’t apologize for her outburst and Jack wouldn’t expect her to anyway. “I’ll pop down to Chen’s and get us some Chinese food,” she said as she walked from Jack’s office to the reception room.
By late evening, Bobby called in with a report. Apparently Angelo was meeting with the owner of the Sands. Bobby had seen the two men go up to a private suite and he was hanging back in the casino. He reassured Jack that he would be careful.
“I’m just another tourist playing Black Jack,” Bobby said right before he hung up.
“He’s okay, Dani,” Jack assured her as she fiddled with the stapler on her desk. “I’m going over to the Club. This will give me a chance to talk to Miss D’Amore while Angelo isn’t hanging around.”
“Is that the only reason?” Dani asked with a slight smirk on her face.
Jack returned her smirk with one of his own. “That’s the only reason, Dani. Honest.”
“Ummhmmm,” she said as she gave Jack a wink and then went back to her paperwork.
By the time Jack arrived at The Wild Card, the place was booming. The lounge was filled with businessmen from all over the City. Jazz filled the air and drinks flowed from the bar. Jack sat down on a bar stool and waited until Frank spotted him.
“Two nights in so many days,” Frank said as he slid a shot of bourbon over to Jack.
Jack smiled. “What can I say, I enjoy the new act.”
Since it was so noisy in the joint, Frank leaned over the bar and half-yelled at Jack. “Miss D’Amore isn’t performing tonight, Jack.”
Jack downed his bourbon and looked up at Frank. He raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Any particular reason why?”
Frank straightened back up, picked up Jack’s glass and finally stated, “Called in sick. That’s all I know.”
Jack tossed a fiver onto the bar and stood up. “Sick, eh? Thanks, Frank.”
As Jack left the bar, his mind whirled with worry. Angelo leaves town suddenly and Ella calls in sick. He didn’t like these odds. He didn’t like them one bit. He rushed out of The Wild Card.
The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!
This serial is copyrighted ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
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Jump forward to Part 8