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I gazed again at the salver At least soe square envelope was centered exactly on its center, held in place by a slender Mexican quartz letter opener

"You say that’s for me?"

"If you are Miss Delilah Street and not soh road trip to Mexico and back"

With that I snatched the letter opener and pushed it through the heavy rag paper so hard I got a jagged edge instead of a neat slit

I pulled out an e invitation script very slowly, because it was so ornate it was aluest

at a private party at 8:00 pas landmark

The Penthouse, Inferno Hotel and Casino on the Strip

Black Tie

"Nerve incarnate," I complained "Not even an RSVP, as if he was certain I’d co Who delivered this?"

"A er service"

I believed I’d received soer once before, the silver familiar

I looked at my wrist, which waswatchless Godfrey lifted his left arm, shook down his formal white cuff, and offered his round-dialed atch for my perusal

"Four fifteen? Must be pm," I mumbled

A nearby whimper madeGodfrey with a furry and furrowed brow

"Master Quicksilver, good afternoon," Godfrey said "Thank you for the heads-up Miss Delilah, you’re exhausted Why didn’t you say so? Do sit down There’s a clever little bench just inside the door"

I took his advice, surprised that my knees were a bit wobbly No food in sixteen hours will do that to my metabolism For some reason Godfrey was reluctant to cross my threshold I didn’t know if it was because a proper butler would never do that, or because, as a CinSim, he wasn’t chipped to roam that far

"May I see?" Godfrey extended a hand It did not cross the threshold

I handed the card over it

"I see," he murmured after a couple moments "Rather for?"

"Of course not" I pushed a hand through eable "It’s unspeakably rude"

"Certainly on inexcusably short notice"

"As I said, rude"


"And I could never get ready that fast"

"The last straw"

"That’s right, Godfrey The cardinal sin against Miss Manners How could I possibly attend a for on the floor of a fleabag ht before that I was up toones, Godfrey, running behind an army of desert dust devils and--"

"Please" Godfrey’s palreat outdoors I aency is of a social nature, I’anize the troops and arrange for a car to pick you up at seven thirty"

"Dolly’s all bathed and polished, you said--"

"A lady does not drive herself"

He was gone before I could set hiht I sleepwalked through the front parlor, past the high-tech office/ho down the last of the sliders and fries


The non filled the air I got it The fast food had gone cold I took out a savory, stea, for the kitchen table

A lass sat besidesilver tableware

Apparently the kitchen witch had undergone a change ofI couldn’t remember where I’d left it, but Quick dashed out of the roo around the case

"Uh, thanks" I eyed the screen Ric? Ric!

"I just got this crazy-assed invitation," he began

"Me too Who brought yours?"

"I’reen man"

"Did he wear silver sandals and have hairy hammertoes?"

"I don’t check out feet and shoes first, Del He was so lederhosen"

"That’s Mercury Express, Horown Delivery Service A lot of the Strip joints use them around town" And one in particular from my previous experience

"You mean enterprises on the Strip"

"That’s what I said I’m still tired as hell, but I’otten my tux out in year"

"You own a tux?"

"Yeah Business reasons"

"I love men in tuxes"

"Down, chica I a peekaboo under my five-o-clock shadow It’s ular tie, a little black satin here and there"

"Like your sheets Yurowth you cultivated in Mexico"

"So you’re into black satin and beard burns, huh?"