By the time Jack pulled up outside The Briscoe Hotel, he was in a frenzy. He could only imagine how desperate Ella must be to shoot Frank. He just hoped his hunch was right that Ella would go to Angelina’s hotel. His mind raced with a dozen possible scenarios. Since Ella had a gun, would she use it again? Would she actually kill Angelina? Over me? None of this made any sense. Angelina knew there was no chance he would take her back and with all Jack had recently discovered about Ella, he wasn’t sure he could trust her. Dames! he thought as he entered the hotel lobby.
The Briscoe was a posh hotel near the train station. Jack didn’t care much for its Parisian style or its expense. Angelina must be doing okay in New York if she could afford this place. He headed to the registration desk. There were two others waiting in line to check-in. Jack wished now that he had asked Angelina for her room number, but he didn’t want to give her mixed signals either. He pushed his way forward, ignoring the other guests, and pounded on the desk.
“I need the room number for Miss Angelina Favero!” Jack demanded.
“Sir, you need to wait your turn,” the desk clerk stated and then turned back to the woman he was assisting.
“You don’t understand. There could be a murder in progress. I must have that number!”
“A murder? Are you the police?” the clerk asked.
“No, I am not the police. I am a private detective and if you don’t give me that number right now, I will come across that desk and beat it out of you!” Jack screamed. His face had turned red and his eyes bulged. He didn’t like getting into such a frantic state and threaten people, but this time he had no choice.
The clerk shifted his eyes nervously, scanned his register and stammered, “Room 619, sir.”
Jack raced to the elevator and pushed the button. He shifted from foot to foot as he waited. When it opened, he entered and pushed the sixth floor. He just hoped he wasn’t too late. It felt like an eternity as he stared at the numbers going up. Finally, he reached the sixth floor and ran down the hall. When he came to room 619, he heard shouts coming from the room.
“You left him, Angelina! You don’t deserve him!”
Angelina laughed. “And you think after what I told him about you, he will still want you? You are a fool, Ella!”
“You are wrong. He loves me.”
“Oh yes, love. He loves you so much. That’s why he gave you back to Victor. He only loves one woman. And that is definitely not you!”
“Put down the gun, Ella. You don’t want to do this!”
“I am tired of you telling me what I do or don’t want to do!”
Jack heard the gun shot and rammed the door with his left shoulder. As it broke free from its hinges, Jack jerked it away and entered the room. Ella stood in the center of the room with a gun in her hand. Angelina laid on the floor near the bed. Jack ran to her and placed his arm under her head. She’d been shot just a little right of her heart, but blood was flowing freely from the wound. Jack glared up at Ella.
“Why Ella?” he asked and reached for the phone on the bedside table.
“Don’t do that, Jack!” Ella yelled as she aimed the gun at him.
Jack halted. He looked down at Angelina. Her face whitened and she took shallow breaths. “I’ve got to call an ambulance, Ella.”
“She doesn’t deserve to live, Jack,” Ella said, her voice calm and cold.
Jack grabbed a pillow off of the bed and placed it under Angelina’s head. He pulled a sheet off of the bed and wound it up into a ball and placed it over her wound. He placed Angelina’s hand over it.
“Hold it tight, Angelina, ” he whispered. “You will be fine.”
Angelina nodded her head and gasped for air. “Jack… .”
“Shhh, save your strength,” he cooed at her.
Jack stood up and faced Ella. The cold, calculating woman who stood before him was nothing like the passionate woman he thought he’d known. This woman would kill anyone who got in her way.
“So you are going to shoot me too?” he asked as he took slow steps toward her.
“I will if I have to, Jack.”
Jack inched forward. “There’s no way out of this for you, Ella. Frank’s still alive. He told me it was you who shot him. And I know you’ve shot Angelina too. Who else have you shot, Ella?” Jack asked as he glanced at the gun. It was a Colt. The same make and model that was used on Jessica Daley and the sailor in New York.
Ella waved the gun at him. Panic flashed across her face. “Don’t come any closer, Jack. I will shoot you!”
“Did you shoot Jessica?” Jack asked as he moved another step closer to her.
Ella wrenched her head around and stared out the window. “I had to, Jack. She was ruining everything!”
Jack took advantage of her distraction and raced toward her. He grabbed her arm and twisted it around her back. She fired the gun, but the bullet whizzed past Jack and landed in the wall. Jack wrestled her to the floor and finally got the gun out of her hand. Ella collapse into a huddle on the floor, pressed her head into her hands and wept. Jack ignored her theatrics, stood up and walked to the bedside table. As he dialed the lobby, he kept his eyes on her.
“We need an ambulance in room 619. Now! And ring the police!” he shouted into the phone. He hung up the receiver and bent down to check on Angelina. She was unconscious, but still alive.
Jack walked back over to Ella and pulled on her arm. She stood up and Jack walked her to the bed. As she sat down, Jack took a couple of paces away from her. He took a cigarette out of his pack and lit it. Everything Angelina had told him about Ella was true. He hadn’t wanted to believe it. But there it was. She admitted to killing Jessica.
“Did you kill that sailor too,” Jack asked and took a drag off of his cigarette.
Ella lifted her head and tears streamed down her cheeks. She stared at Jack for a long moment. Finally, she confessed, “Yes, Jack. Him too.”
Jack turned away from her. She was not the woman he thought she was. “And Charlie White?” he asked as he flicked ashes into an ashtray on the table.
“No, that was Victor’s doing. Jack… look at me, Jack,” she begged.
Jack turned his head toward her. A grim look on his face. Ella opened her mouth to speak, then shut it. She stood up and walked toward Jack, but he pointed the gun at her.
“No, Ella. Just stay where you are.”
Ella cupped her mouth with the palm of her hand. “Oh Jack… what you must think of me!” she cried out.
“I think you are a murderer, Ella,” Jack said coldly.
Ella flung herself across the bed face down. “I guess Angelina has won after all,” she muttered through her tears.
Jack groaned and put his cigarette out. “I am not a prize to be won, Ella,” he said as he walked over to the bed and put a hand on her back. “I’m sorry it went down this way.”
Ella lifted her head up from the bed and turned it toward Jack. She stared up at him with tear-filled eyes. “Me too, Jack. Me too.”
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, Part 27, Part 28
Jump forward to Part 30