Since I opened that can of worms by mentioning Las Vegas, here’s the discovery draft of that scene. You’ll notice that it’s completely unstructured, starts abruptly, rambles, and then just stops; that’s because it’s a discovery draft. I know it’s terrible. I haven’t revised it even once. This is raw Crusie. And I may decide to cut the whole thing and write a new breakfast scene (there are a lot of breakfast scenes, six I think) with no proposal, so it’s just a placeholder for now. But this is what happened while I was writing, and why I researched Las Vegas and then discarded it.
“There’s a white power group on the island,” Nita said over her eggs. “How in the hell did I miss that?”
“Why was Lilith here?” Nick said.
“To seduce you?” Nita said.
“I’m dead,” Nick said.
“You need a t-shirt with that on it.” Nita picked up a piece of bacon and looked toward the sunny bay window. “It’s really nice here. I’m going to talk to Vinnie about moving in. After I put a lock on the door to keep Lily out. Syrup please.”
Nick passed her the syrup.
Nita frowned at her French toast as she sloshed the syrup on. “Marvella is running a white power group to kill demons. Did she kill Jimmy?”
“No idea. We’ll put it on the list. Pass the syrup please.”
Nita handed back the syrup. “I can’t put it on a list, I have to figure this out now, and I don’t have much time, I have to get to work.”
“Not today.” Nick got a second orange juice out of the drinks carrier. “We have work to do here.”
“Look,” Nita said. “I have a job. Which pays my rent.” She looked down at the plate full of eggs and French toast that Nick had given her. “And the few crusts of bread needed to sustain my existence. So as soon as I’m done here, I have to go work or get fired. Which would be bad.”
“No problem. I’ll marry you.” Nick peered into another carton. “I don’t even know what this stuff is.”
“Marry?” Nita said, for once not distracted by food. “Where the hell did that come from?”
Nick passed her the carton. “You need money to survive. I have money. If we’re married, you get my money.”
“You want me to marry you for money,” Nita said, putting her fork down.
Nick shrugged. “I don’t need it. The Devil has his own account on Earth and it’s huge, so once I take office, I won’t need mine any more. I only used mine when I came to Earth and wanted something that wasn’t official.” He looked at the table. “Like a flat surface on which to eat eggs.”
“Marry,” Nita said again, trying to be calm. The Devil just proposed. He’s an old-fashioned guy, he should have asked the Mayor’s permission for that. Or Satan’s.
I’m losing my mind.
He looked up. “Nita, I can’t give you money to live on because the US government gets interested if you give anybody more than ten thousand a year. If we’re married, you get it all, no problem.”
“Well, there might be a few problems,” Nita said, trading confusion for annoyance. “Like you’re dead and you live in Hell.”
“Yes, but my money is here,” Nick pointed out. “You don’t need me, you need money.”
“This was some kind of inheritance from your grandfather?” Nita said, ignoring the not needing him part because of course, she didn’t.
“No. I swindled a demon out of $260,000 in 1934. I put it in a bank for the next time I needed money, and then when I came back in 1986, the interests rates were insanely good, so I switched banks. Compound interest did the rest.” He chewed on a piece of bacon thoughtfully. “Look, it’s a simple solution with no drawbacks. You’ll have complete freedom, and the money’s just going to sit there and rot once I’m Devil.”
“Uh huh.” Nita picked up her fork and cut into her French toast. French toast was normal. “So how much money are we talking about here?” She bit into the toast, thinking, Why am I having this conversation?
Because the Devil asked me to marry him.
She was having a really weird week.
“What?” Nick looked up from his eggs. “Sorry, missed that last bit.”
“How much money do you have?”
“A little over forty-three million. What is in that carton?”
“Grits,” Nita said. “Forty-three million dollars?”
“Compound interest is a wonderful thing. What are grits?”
“Forty-three million dollars,” Nita said.
“Yes,” Nick said. “Do I want to try grits? Because my instinct tells me no, but then I’m dead.”
“Forty-three million dollars.”
Nick looked over at her. “Well, a little less since Rab’s been burning the card to set up the bar and Sadiel bought Demonista and a baph with it, but generally, yes.”
“That’s a lot of money, Nick,” Nita said, and then caught her breath as her voice rose.
“Yes, I know. So we get married, you get the money, and if you get fired, it doesn’t matter, you’re covered. Problem solved. I’m going to put the boys back on the Hellgates and you and I can focus on whoever’s sending demons to kill you and Jimmy.”
Nita sat back. “You want to give me forty-three million dollars.”
“Focus.” Nick sloshed syrup on his toast. “Don’t get hung up on the money. Trust me, the Devil’s Earth accounts makes that look like chump change.”
“I know this is a bad idea,” Nita said, forking up a chunk of toast. “I’m trying to think why.”
“Well, you might want to marry someone else.”
Nita looked up to find him watching her. “No. According to my mother, the women in our family don’t marry, and since I’ve never wanted to, I’ve been good with that.”
“So your mother will stop you from marrying me,” Nick said, not sounding as if he cared.
“If my mother finds out you’re worth forty-three million, she’ll get ordained and marry us herself,” Nita said. “She’s independent, not nuts.” She frowned at him. “Marrying for money is bad.”
“Not if both sides know that’s what it’s about.”
What if I wish it wasn’t about that?
No, that was ridiculous. She was still rocky from the day before.
Forty-three million dollars? Holy hell.
Nick waved his fork at her while he chewed. “You could buy the bar from Vinnie and run it. Live up here. Pay Jeo a huge salary to run the place.”
Nick shrugged. “He wants to. There’s no point in forcing him to go back if he’s serious about it. I’ll make him an envoy so he can report back to Hell. Ambassador to Earth.”
“That’s nice of you,” Nita said.
“So where do people get married here?” Nick pushed his empty plate away and looked at hers. “You’re not eating your breakfast.”
“I’m dealing with a lot of thoughts, okay?” Nita rubbed her forehead.
“Is the reverend at the Church of Satan ordained?” Nick said. “There’s a kind of poetry in that.”
“Yes,” Nita said. “But there’s a three-day waiting period in New Jersey after you apply for the license. And to apply for the license you have to go to the local registrar. Who works for my father. You remember the Mayor.”
“I remember your mother, too,” Nick said, hitting the cartons again. “But I am fearless in the face of homicidal in-laws. I won’t be spending the holidays with them. Eat something, Detective Dodd, we have a big day ahead of us.”