The Stacked Deck – Part 27

It was nearly two pm when Jack hailed a taxi for Angelina. He needed a bit of time to process her information before Dani and Bobby returned. He sat at his desk with his bourbon and cigarettes. He’d down a drink and then take a drag off of a cigarette. He lost count of how many shots he’d had, but the cigarettes were piling up in the ashtray.

He still couldn’t believe that Ella was involved that deeply in Victor’s affairs, nor that she had helped Agosti run his. And Victor’s half-sister? Jack shook his head. Did I even know you at all? It would explain why Victor wanted her back, but it didn’t explain why Ella allowed him to beat on her. Jack still had too many unanswered questions. He would have to go straight to the source for the answers too. He just hoped she would give them to him. He’d had enough of everyone’s lies.

Jack turned to stand up and knocked his right elbow on the desk. He cursed as pain flooded his right arm. He’d had enough of this too. He opened the center desk drawer and removed a pair of scissors. He unbuttoned his shirt and snipped away at the bandage around his midsection. He pulled the bandage loose from his skin and then snipped at the piece around his shoulder. Just as he was about to pull it away, he heard the office door open. Jack tried to get his shirt back over his shoulder, but it was impossible.

“Damn it!” he yelled out.

Dani ran into his office and stopped in the middle of the room. She glared at him for a moment and then walked over to him.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, Jack?” she asked as she grabbed his shirt and removed it all the way.

Jack turned around and faced her. “I am sick of this!”

“You’ve made a fine mess of it,” she decided as she pulled away the remaining outer bandage from the wound. “I’d better have a look at it. Sit down, Jack.”

Jack sighed and sat down. Dani tossed the bandages into the waste basket and then removed the inner bandage. The wound was neatly sown, but it would still leave a nasty, jagged scar. As she ran a finger across the stitching, Jack flinched.

“Sorry, Jack. I’m going to clean and redress it,” she said as she walked toward the bathroom. “You shouldn’t need a full shoulder dressing though.”

Jack watched her walk away and then propped his left elbow up on the desk. He placed his hand over his forehead and grunted. He didn’t know what was more painful, his shoulder or his heart. When he heard Dani return, he looked up. She brought over a bottle of disinfectant, some gauze and tape, and placed them on the desk.

“This is going to sting,” she whispered as she pour some of the disinfectant onto a piece of gauze. “Ready?”

Jack nodded and gripped the side of the desk. “Just do it, Dani.”

Dani gently dabbed the stitches, stopping each time Jack tensed up. Once she’d cleaned the entire wound, she took a large piece of gauze and taped it to Jack’s shoulder. She picked up his shirt and walked around the desk.

“Here, let me help you put this back on,” she said and held the right sleeve out for him to slide his arm in.

Jack grinned as he edged his arm in and then turned around. He put his left arm into its sleeve and then faced Dani again. Instead of buttoning the shirt though, she placed her palm on his chest and sighed. Jack’s face grew dim and he let out a sigh too. He wrapped his arms around her. As he drew her in to his body, Dani pressed her head against his chest and embraced him back. They stood there for a long moment just holding one another.

Finally, Jack whispered into her ear, “Everything will be okay, Dani.”

Dani lifted her head and slowly nodded. “I hope so, Jack. I can’t… I can’t lose you too.”

Jack took a step back and placed his left hand on her shoulder. He gazed down at her and noted the concerned look on her face. “I won’t let that happen, Dani. I promise you,” he whispered again.

She nodded her head, took a deep breath and began buttoning up his shirt. “There, all done,” she said as she ran a hand down the front of the shirt.

Jack flashed her a crooked smile. “Thanks, Dani. Where’s Bobby?” he asked as he sat back down in his chair.

Dani walked around to the opposite side of the desk and sat down on top of it. Se picked up a stack of papers. “He said he had a lead on something. He wouldn’t tell me what though,” she replied as she thumbed through them. “What did Miss Favero tell you?”

Jack watched as Dani flipped through the papers. He understood her resolve. That wasn’t an easy question to ask. He knew the last thing Dani wanted was to hear about Angelina. He lit a cigarette, took a drag and exhaled.

“Seems Miss D’Amore is up to her chin in Victor’s business,” Jack replied. He took another drag and sat the cigarette down in the ashtray. He reached across the desk and took the papers out of Dani’s hands. “You don’t have to worry about Angelina, Dani. She is going back to New York in the morning.”

Dani tilted her head toward Jack and raised an eyebrow at him. “Who says I’m worried? I just want to know what she said.”

Jack chuckled and leaned back in his chair. “Sure, Dani… Anyway, it’s all a scheme. Miss D’Amore’s position at the club, the gambling in the back room, and even the smut pictures.”

” A scheme, huh? How does it work?”

“She grooms women to charm men and get them drunk. Then the men gamble away their money and are forced to take pictures to pay off their debts. It’s a blackmail scheme and Miss D’Amore is in on it all. Oh, and one last thing,” he said as he picked up his cigarette and lifted it toward his lips. “She’s Victor’s half-sister,” he concluded. He took a long drag off of the cigarette and snuffed it out.

Dani’s eyes widened. “Half-sister?”

Jack nodded his head.

“So you think she was grooming Jessica Daley and Charlie White got mixed up in the scheme?”

“It sounds that way. I’ll know more when I talk to her.”

Dani opened her mouth to make a comment, but the phone rang. She reached over and picked it up.

“Hang on, Bobby,” she said and handed the phone to Jack.

“What’s up, Bobby?”

There was a moment of silence on the other end and then Bobby finally replied, “You’d better get down here to The Wild Card, Jack. Frank’s been shot. He’s asking for you.”

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!

The Stacked Deck ©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, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23. Part 24, Part 25, Part 26

Jump forward to Part 28

small stones – March 27, 2016


art credit: Adrift, conceptual art by

why this revolving theme
a constant in my life

I find someone
grow to love them
and they leave

it takes a toll on me
to be open, vulnerable
to expose rattling bones

and so I wonder
why keep doing this
why seek friendships

resolve my destiny
embrace being alone