Jack dropped Larson off at the 5th Precinct with the gun. Larson had tried to discuss the case with him, but Jack’s mind wasn’t on that. He couldn’t get Ella’s words out of his head. I am in love with Jack. Those words repeated over and over again in his sleep-deprived mind. He hadn’t reacted when she said them. How could he? He’d been down that road before and he nearly died. He wasn’t too keen on losing his life over another Italian dame. He did need answers though. He bid Larson goodnight and headed for the hotel.
When he knocked on the door, Officer Buxley opened it. He stepped aside and allowed Jack to enter.
“How is she?” Jack asked as he took off his overcoat.
“She’s okay, Mr. Diamond. Resting at the moment.”
Jack waited until Buxley scanned the hallway and was about to close the door. “You could probably use a break. Give me an hour with Miss D’Amore,” Jack handed Buxley a few bills. “Go get yourself some dinner.”
Buxley’s face lit up and he tipped his hat at Jack as he walked out the door. “Thank you, Mr. Diamond!”
Jack closed the door behind Buxley and locked it. He walked into the sitting room and tossed his coat onto a chair. He headed to the bar and searched for a bottle of bourbon. There wasn’t any. He settled for the next best thing, a shot of scotch. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. He was tired, bone tired. He picked up the scotch and headed into the bedroom.
Ella laid on top of the comforter. Her long lean body shrouded in a white bathrobe. Her black hair fanned out on the pillow. She looked like an angel lying there. Jack sat down on the edge of the bed and took a sip of the scotch. It went down hard. He grimaced and took a drag off of his cigarette. He just sat there for a long moment and watched Ella. Her words again repeated in his head. I am in love with Jack. He finished the scotch and sat the glass down on the bedside table. Took another drag off of his cigarette and then stumped it out in the ashtray. Finally, he placed a hand on Ella’s shoulder and shook her gently. She stirred, slowly at first and then with a startle. Her eyes opened wide and she glanced around the room as though she didn’t know where she was.
“It’s okay, Ella. It’s only me,” Jack said as he gathered her into his arms.
Ella sighed as she snuggled her head against his chest. “Oh Jack, I was so worried! Officer Buxley told me that Victor had returned. I was so frightened for you!” she exclaimed as she looked up at him with her large blue eyes and a concerned look on her face.
“We got by okay,” Jack assured her.
“Did you find the gambling room?” she asked as she slipped out of Jack’s arms and sat up in the bed.
Jack laughed. “Oh we found it alright, but Victor had cleaned it out.”
Ella lowered her head. “I’m sorry, Jack. I didn’t know.” She grasped his hand into hers and tilted her head up. “I risked your life for nothing!”
Jack placed his other hand over Ella’s and looked deeply into her eyes. “It wasn’t for nothing, Ella. I think we found the gun that killed Jessica.”
Ella’s eyes widened and her face grew grim. “You found a gun?”
Jack smiled. That wasn’t quite the expression he’d expected, but it was an interesting one nonetheless. “Yeah, in Jessica’s locker.”
Ella released Jack’s hand and slid off of the bed. She tied the robe tightly about her body and walked around to his side. “Can I have a cigarette, Jack?” she asked as she sat down in a chair by the bed.
Jack nodded and reached for his pack. He kept his eyes on her as he handed her one. Her hand trembled. Another interesting reaction, Jack thought as he lit her cigarette.
Ella held the cigarette between her lips and closed her eyes as she inhaled deeply. She opened them again on the exhale. She appeared calmer after the second drag.
“This doesn’t make sense, Jack,” she finally whispered. She waved the cigarette around in the air as though it would conjure up an answer. She took another drag and looked off into the distance. Finally, she narrowed her eyes back at Jack, a puzzled look on her face. “Why would someone hide the murder weapon in Jessica’s locker?”
Jack shrugged. “I have no idea, Ella. Hell, I don’t even know if it is the murder weapon. Make and model match. Larson is having it tested for prints and ballistics.”
Ella nodded as she blew a puff of smoke into the room. She finished the cigarette and put it out. “I think I need a drink,” she said as she stood up.
Jack followed her into the sitting room. She poured two glasses of scotch and handed one to Jack. He sipped his while he watched Ella pace around the room. He could tell the wheels were cranking inside her mind and wished that he knew what she was thinking. Something had her rattled. She stopped midway in the room, facing away from him. Jack finally gulped down the rest of the scotch and placed the glass back onto the bar.
“I can’t stay, Ella,” he said after a long moment of silence. “It’s late and I need to check in with Dani.”
As she turned to face him, Jack could tell she was dazed. She blinked a couple of times as though she was trying to comprehend what he’d just said. “I’m sorry, what did you say, Jack?”
“I’ve got to go, Ella.”
There was a knock on the door. Jack opened it and Buxley stood outside in the hallway. Good timing, Jack thought.
“Sorry I took so long, Mr. Diamond.”
Jack smiled at the young officer. “Not at all. Your timing couldn’t have been better.” Jack patted Buxley on the shoulder and then picked up his coat. “I will see you tomorrow,” he said as he directed his attention to Ella.
Ella nodded slowly. “Thank you, Jack,” she whispered as she walked back into the bedroom.
As Jack walked out of the hotel and headed toward his car, he analyzed Ella’s reaction to the news of the gun. Was it fear? Shock? He just didn’t know. Something wasn’t right though. She was definitely frazzled over it. If only he knew what was going on in that pretty little mind of hers. He climbed into his car and headed back to the office.
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, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11
Jump forward to Part 13