Jack sat propped up in Ella’s bed. The cigarette in his right hand burnt slowly. His mind wasn’t focused on that. Instead, he was too concerned with the woman curled up against him. He gazed down at her as she slept. Her soft lashes brushed against her cheeks. Her lips were curled into a dreamy smile. Her warm curvaceous body was hidden by the sheet. One slender arm was draped over his thigh and the other was tucked under her head. He’d give anything to have this moment last forever.
He flicked the ashes into the ashtray, took a long draw off of the remaining cigarette and stumped it out. A stream of morning light filtered in through the window. Jack sighed heavily and shifted his body. Moments like this didn’t last forever for him. They never had. I am just destined to be alone, he thought to himself as Ella stirred beside him. He kept his gaze on her as she blinked and opened her blue eyes.
“Ummmm… good morning, Jack,” she whispered.
Jack smiled down at her. “Good morning, gorgeous.”
Ella stretched out her body, cat-like. She ran her hand up his thigh and pressed it against Jack’s chest. A sly grin creased across her face.
“You seem well satisfied this morning,” Jack said as he brushed his hand across her hair and moved a strand away from her eyes.
Ella laughed and leaned in. She slowly kissed him as her hand roamed up his chest to his neck.
Jack wanted nothing more than to make love to her again, but he had too much on his mind. He pulled his lips from hers and placed a finger over her lips.
“There is time for that again later,” he said as he squirmed out from under her.
Ella pouted. “What could be more pressing?”
“You know what… Victor.”
Jack stood up and grabbed his pants, sliding them up over his legs. He picked up his undershirt and slid it over his head, then put on his shirt. As he buttoned it, he looked at Ella still laying in bed, an arm propping up her head. She made no attempts to get up and dress. She just continued to watch Jack as he dressed.
“Come on, Ella. Get that sleepy head of yours out of bed. We still need to talk.”
Jack threw her nightgown at her and walked off to the bathroom. Don’t get attached, he repeated over and over again in his head. He cupped some cold water in his hands and splashed it over his face and neck. He looked at his haggard face in the mirror. He looked old. At forty-five, he was finally feeling his age. He wiped his face and neck off with a hand towel and left the bathroom.
Ella sat on the edge of the bed. She’d put on the nightgown and a matching white silk robe. Her legs were crossed, but the one was bouncing up and down. Jack knew that look all too well. She wasn’t pleased with him. He walked over to the bedside table, grabbed a cigarette and lit it. As he smoked, he paced around the small bedroom.
“Why are you being so cold, Jack?” Ella asked after watching him for a long moment.
Jack turned to her. She had leaned across the edge of the bed, still pouting. “I won’t say what we did last night was a mistake, Ella, but you are Victor’s girl.”
“I am no man’s girl, Jack. Victor just thinks I am his since he helped me out of a jam,” she retorted as she sat back up. “But I am my own woman, Jack. I decide who gets into my bed and who doesn’t.”
Jack too a drawl off of the cigarette, but kept his eyes on Ella. He exhaled a puff of smoke. “I am sure Victor won’t see it that way. We have a history, you know. He won’t be happy if he finds out I’ve slept with another one of his dames.”
Ella stood up and patted across the floor to her wardrobe, her round bottom swishing back and forth. She took out a pink dress with black trim and tossed it across the bed. She went to the chest of drawers, removed a black brassiere, matching panties and a pair of silk stockings. She returned to the bed, unrobed and began dressing.
Jack nearly burned his fingers with the cigarette as he watched her. She was classy, he would give her that. He stumped out his cigarette and sat down in a chair beside the bed. His eyes scanned her lean body as she put on the brassiere and panties. As she slid the dress over her head and snaked it down her body, Jack remembered their night of passion. She’d snaked her body over his that way. Suddenly he was jealous of that dress being so close to her. He jerked his head away. If he kept watching her, she would be out of that dress again and on that bed. The mere thought stirred a flame in his loins. He shook his head to get the picture out of his head.
Jack coughed and turned his head back toward Ella. “We need to talk about what you know, Ella and I think we should go to Detective Larson with the information.”
Ella, fully dressed now, sat down at her dressing table and began brushing her hair. She glanced over at Jack through the mirror. “If I go to the cops, Victor will kill me for sure.”
“Not if we put him in jail where he belongs.”
Ella turned around in her seat, a worried look on her face. “If we do this, Jack, you must protect me. I won’t be safe here or at the Club.”
Jack stood up and strode over to Ella. He placed his hands on her shoulders. “I will protect you with my life, Ella.”
Ella looked into Jack’s eyes for a moment and then slowly nodded. “Let’s go see Detective Larson then,” she concluded. She turned back around, applied pink lipstick to her lips and brushed her hair back once more. She stood up, grabbed her coat off of a nearby chair and sighed. “Ready when you are.”
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.
Click the link to catch up on the other parts of this story:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8
Jump forward to Part 10