(Warning: some sexual content)
Fog had settled over the City by the time Jack left the club. He’d headed straight for a phone booth. He tried Art Larson’s house and then the 5th Precinct.
“Hello? Art, it’s Jack.”
“Hey, Jack. How’d you know I was at the precinct?”
“I called your house first. Samantha told me you had a break in a case.”
“Yeah, but none you would know about. What ya need, Jack?”
“Jessica Daley’s address.”
“I don’t have time to explain right now, Art. Do you have it or not?”
Jack could hear Art opening a file drawer and rustling papers. Finally, he came back on the line.
“132 Jefferson Lane. Apartment 16. I still don’t know why you…”
Jack interrupted him. “Sorry, Art. I promise I will explain later. Thanks.”
Jack hung up the phone before Larson could ask any more questions and headed for Jessica and Ella’s apartment. The fog was so thick that it made driving difficult, and traffic was slow, even that late at night. It was nearly ten o’clock by the time he pulled up outside of the apartment building. He remembered the last time he’d chased down a dame from Victor’s club. It hadn’t ended well, but at least Victor was out of town this time. No chance of going head to toe with him or Tito.
Jack climbed out of his car and entered the building. It was one of those newly constructed buildings in an Art Deco style. Lots of lean, smooth lines, brass and steel. Victor must have been paying his girls better these days, Jack surmised. He easily found number 16 and knocked on the door. He waited, but after no answer, he knocked again. Finally, he heard someone stirring inside.
“Who is it?”
He recognized her voice. “It’s Jack Diamond, Miss D’Amore.”
Ella unlatched the door and called out, “Come in, Mr. Diamond.”
Jack turned the knob and slowly entered the apartment. It was dark except for a sliver of light coming from the other end of the hallway. Jack walked toward it. The door was cracked. He pushed it open with his foot.
“Don’t come in any further, Jack. Please?”
He stood just inside the doorway and glanced around the room. The bed was unmade and clothing was tossed about. A lamp was lit on the bedside table and a red scarf was tossed over it, giving the room a rosy glow. There was a light on in another room just off to the right of the chest of drawers.
“Ella, Frank said you called out sick tonight?” Jack said in a louder than usual voice.
“You shouldn’t have come, Jack.”
Jack noted that Ella’s voice sounded strained, as though she were upset or worse, crying.
“Come out here so we can talk, Ella. I don’t want to keep yelling through doors.”
There was a sniffle, and then silence for a moment. Finally, the light switched off in the other room and the door creaked open. Ella emerged through the shadows, her face partially covered by her shoulder-length black hair. A white satin nightgown clung to her small waist and ample breasts. She moved slowly into the room and sat down on a corner of the bed.
“What’s happened, Ella?” Jack whispered as he entered the room and moved toward her.
“No! Please don’t come in, Jack!” Ella pleaded as she kept her head turned away from him.
Jack ignored her and kept walking until he stood beside her. He sat down and lifted a hand to smooth back her hair. And then he saw it, a large bruise on her cheek and a cut over her left eye.
“Did Victor do this to you?” he demanded as he cupped her chin and pulled her face around towards him.
Ella nodded and buried her head into Jack’s shoulder. She wept as Jack pulled her into an embrace. He held her like that for a long moment, not saying a word. Finally, she stopped crying and lifted her head. Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief and gave it to her. She wiped her eyes and nose, and then sat upright.
“I’m sorry, Jack. I didn’t want you to see me this way,” she whispered as she pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes.
“Why, Ella? Why did Victor hit you?” he asked as he wrapped an arm around her and cradled her against his chest.
Ella sniffled a few times and then lightly blew her nose into the handkerchief. “He wanted to know who Dani was,” she finally admitted.
“What did you tell him?”
“Just…just that she was an old friend from New York, but he didn’t believe me. He kept yelling at me and hitting me! Asking me over and over again who she was!” she cried and then tilted her head up to Jack, her eyes bloodshot from the tears. “I didn’t tell him, Jack. I didn’t!”
Jack wrapped his arms even more tightly around her shoulders. “Hush, Ella. It’s okay. It’s okay,” he repeated as he bent his head down and pressed his lips to hers.
Ella curled her body against him and returned the kiss. Long and deep. She grabbed his suit jacket, and pulled him closer to her. Jack hungered for her, but pulled away instead. He looked deeply into her eyes. She was so vulnerable and needy.
“Ella, we shouldn’t…” he began, but Ella placed a finger over his lips.
“I don’t want to talk right now, Jack,” she whispered as her eyes danced with desire.
Ella leaned into him and ran her tongue over his lips. Seductively, she nibbled on first the lower lip and then the upper lip. All the while, she turned her body around until she settled her hips onto his lap. She released his lips, sighed and gazed into his eyes. After a long moment, she removed his fedora, tossed it across the room, and then slowly ran her hands through his hair.
Jack let out a short growl and brushed his lips against hers, softly at first, lingering. Then he crushed his lips into hers so hard, he could feel his own lips bruising. A fire burned inside of him. He wrapped his arms around her waist and in one quick jerking motion, he pulled her against him until they both collapsed flat onto the bed. Jack sank into the mattress, while Ella’s body writhed around on top of him. As they kissed one another deeply, they pulled and tugged at their clothing until their naked bodies glistened in the rosy light.
He knew this was mistake, but at that moment, Jack didn’t care. All that matter was that Ella was in his arms and she wanted him as badly as he wanted her. To hell with the consequences.
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 9