Jack was in a foul mood by the time he returned to his office. He still couldn’t believe that Ella murdered those people, but she’d confessed. Ballistics on the gun would seal her fate. He’d stopped by the hospital and check on Frank and Angelina. Both were doing well. Frank and Angelina had agreed to testify against Victor and had given statements to the cops and the DA. Now all they needed was Victor. He couldn’t run forever. Angelina had wanted Jack to stay, but he couldn’t bring himself to encourage her ideas of a reunion between the two of them. That was never going to happen. She’d been right about one thing, Jack only loved one woman and it wasn’t Angelina or Ella.
When he walked into the reception room, Dani stood with her back to the desk. A box sat on the chair, and she busily wrapped and packed items into it. She didn’t acknowledge Jack’s presence. His heart sank. Had he pushed her to leave him completely? He couldn’t blame her. No decent woman deserved a cad like him. He walked into his office and hung his fedora on the coat rack and returned to the reception room. Finally, Dani turned around and smiled at him.
“Hey Jack, I wasn’t expecting you back until later,” she said as she placed another wrapped bundle into the box.
Jack sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the desk. “We wrapped up the case,” he informed her. “Well, except for Victor. He’s still on the lam.”
Dani moved the box to the floor and sat down. She crossed her leg and leaned over the desk. “Don’t worry, Jack. They will get him. Are you hungry? I could go fetch some carry-out.”
Jack didn’t get it. If she was packing to leave, why was she acting so calm? Jacked nodded toward the box. “You going somewhere?”
Dani glanced down at the box and then back at Jack. She laughed lightly. “That’s just some things…” her voice trailed off and her eyes widened. “Oh Jack! You didn’t think that I was packing it in, did you?”
Jack sighed. “Honestly, Dani, I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”
Dani grinned, stood up and walked around the desk toward Jack. “We’ve weathered worse than this. Haven’t we?” she asked as she reclined against the desk in front of him.
Jack leaned forward, wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her toward him. He buried his head in her stomach. “I don’t deserve you, Dani,” he whispered.
Dani cradled his head in her hands. She bent down and rested her head on top of his. “Who else would put up with you, Jack?”
Jack eased himself up, sliding his body along hers. He crushed her against his chest, tilted her head upward and gazed into her green eyes. He hadn’t completely realized it when Angelina said it, but it was true. He did love Dani. He’d always loved her. Chasing dames had just become a pastime because he couldn’t have her. Jack brushed her lips with his. When she didn’t protest, he kissed her with all of the passion he’d held back for so long. Dani wrapped one arm around his neck and the other around his waist. She returned his kiss, teasing him with her tongue. After a long moment, Jack released her lips and smiled down at her.
“I’ve wanted to do that for so long,” he muttered as he pressed his cheek against hers.
Dani sighed blissfully. “Why did you wait?”
Jack lifted his head. His eyes searched her face and rested upon her eyes once more. “I didn’t think… after Mason… God, Dani! I’ve been such a fool. You deserve someone better than me,” he declared as he pulled away from her and walked over toward his office door.
“Jack, I will admit it. You are probably the last man I should ever get involved with, but you are who I ache for every day. Don’t make me regret kissing you,” she said as she walked toward him.
Jack turned around and wrapped his arms around her once more. “What if I hurt you?” he pleaded. “I couldn’t live with myself if I did, Dani.”
Dani smiled up at him and whispered, “If you hurt me, I will tell Daddy.”
Jack knew she would too. She was the Captain’s daughter after all. Jack laughed and pulled her into a hug. He leaned down to kiss her again when the door opened. Bobby walked in and stood there gawking at them.
“Girlfriend material,” Bobby said with a chuckle.
Jack grinned at him and released Dani. She smoothed back her hair and flashed Bobby a cynical smile. The three walked into Jack’s office. Jack sat down behind his desk, while Booby took a seat across from him and Dani sat down on the edge of the desk.
“Good news, boss,” Bobby said.
“They got Victor.”
Dani clapped her hands and grinned at Jack. “It’s about time!”
“I hope they send that guy to Alcatraz!” Jack exclaimed. He pulled out his bourbon bottle and three glasses from the bottom drawer. He poured the amber liquid into each glass and handed one to Dani and Bobby. He held his up and shouted, “Cheers!” The three downed their drinks and laughed.
The phone rang and Dani picked it up. She took a notepad from Jack’s desk and wrote down some information. “I’ll have him call you, Mr. Clarke,” she said and hung the phone up. “Looks like we’ve got another case.”
The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which has appeared as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you enjoyed the 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, Part 29, Part 30