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"I’, Ric, until you tell me what this weird place is It can’t be anywhere at the Inferno I’ve seen" The light was dawning and it was colored lurid red

"It’s the, ah, entertainment level of the Nine Circles," he said

"The Nine Circles of Hell? I kno has a key club at the Limbo level, where all the noir movie sets are stocked with the appropriate CinSi here on their own?"

"You do punch L on the elevator floor layout to get here," Ric said

"Really? I’d thought it would be B for biet a dark suspicion

Ric looked over his handso lovelies

"It’s the Lust level, Delilah, and these babes will eat a guy alive" He grabbed my arm and pulled us both back into the elevator car

"What should I hit?" I asked, ready to split now that he’d confessed to Mauess" Ric kept anxious watch as lily-pale hands with black fingernail polish reached out to stop the elevator doors fro

I pushed the button, and the doors shut out the longing, zombie faces of the Lust level attractions just in tied in the classic sinking feeling Noere both trapped

"What button did you hit?" Ric eyed the lit board

I pointed at one

"Delilah! That’s not an M for Main That’s a V"

I leaned close to study it in the diht it’d been used so much only the middle of the letter was still visible So what’s on V?"

Ric put his palms to his temples to wash his face free of the sudden worry lines "V as inViolence I didn’t get out of Jesuit high school without knowing hostwrote the whole thing I don’t remember awith V"

"You’re right that; there’s an invisible M involved M as in Murder Murderers"

The elevator decided it had tor shut but motionless It whooshed down smoothly, then stopped with a jolt harsher than a conde the end of its noose

By then I was the siren hanging on to Ric’s right ar hias Strip’s version of Hell was behind us both

The elevator doors parted My other hand hovered over the floor buttons I’d hit the real Main the instant the elevator registered it had reached this floor and was ready to rise again I punched the right steel circle andnothing happened All I felt was a depressing lack of depression under er Maybe the buttons were ja hell!" a mad-bull sort of voice demanded from beyond the locked-open elevator doors I looked around Ric to see a stocky guy wearing a teal velour sweat suit His wet ringlets surrounded a bald spot and he was blocking the elevator exit, hairy hands akimbo on his hips

"You! Girly Look at me I’ve seen your sweet kisser before and the circulared at Ric next "And you, punk, what are you doing on the spa level oflord? I deal with your kind on less personal levels"

Now I saw that sas dripping off the old wolf’s head on a thick chain around his equally thick neck

"You, punk," Ric said, pushing a pal him into a backward shuffle "We took your kind down daily when I was in the FBI Don’t like uy snarled, showing fangs "I could have you torn to pieces in five seconds flat"

I’d rettable before we understood as going down here, beside the elevator

"And what hotel is this?" I asked, pretty sure all of us had been jerked into a non-Vegas venue, a fey purgatory, lance around, then swiped one ar to pant

"Man, it is hot here And I don’t recognize thehallway" He ignored Ric to fasten his confused brain on e Internet fan club, ie That’s right I had you in the palone e The Gehenna Hotel would have been the nuas But you wouldn’t cooperate"

He tried to strut forward to grab me, to assert that unpleasant piece of nized Loretta’s father, Cesar Cicereau, fresh from a Gehenna spa workout room, hijacked to Hell as I had been

Ric pushed back the head of the olfto pass off a cold pie

"I’ve heard about your plans to use this woainst her will," he said in full law-enforcement mode "Let’s see, how many felonies does that make, Cicereau? Howti, false imprisonment, slavery--"

While Ric paused for inspiration, I leaped in "Aninant "I have a hunting license from the state And I am an animal, lady! Someti," I told hi the run-through of that al permission from the snake, much less me"

"Look" The salt-and-pepper pelt on Cesar Cicereau’s chest was growing thicker and thornier "This heat iskillingin the nose and jaw, and the ed bald spot was lost in a ’s peak of furred thatch that dipped to the bridge of his muzzleI mean snout

Even Ric backed off from his macho nose-to-nose duel with the olfbefore our eyes and the moon wasn’t full yet