For once, I was dressed almost as nicely as my frequent house guest. Since the Oscars were on tonight, I was wearing a tuxedo.
I looked sharp. Damn sharp. Satan himself had told me so.
Lucifer smiled and took a long sip of his drink. “I love how excited you get about the Oscars. I know it’s your dream to win one someday, but I think it’s adorable how giddy you get just watching the show.”
I did not disagree with The Prince of Darkness’ assessment of my behavior. Something about the Academy Awards got my juices flowing. I was a screenwriter, but I was also a movie fan. I loved the history and the pageantry of the Oscars, and the monologue writer in me always looked forward to the host’s opening jokes.
“Thanks again for bring your Hellfire Wings,” I told him as I took a sniff of the plate of The Devil’s world famous spicy chicken wings. “They really are the perfect Oscar snack.”
I glared across the couch at Lucifer because he knew damn well that my tuxedo was not a rental.
He laughed, shook his head at how easy it was to get to me, and took another sip of his Snapple.
“I read that each Oscar statue costs about a thousand dollars,” I said in an attempt to change the subject from my wardrobe. “I would have guessed they cost much more than that.”
“They do,” Satan informed me like a man confident in his facts. “Those statues cost exactly one eternal soul.”
My eyes lit up with excitement at that tasty tidbit, which I’m sure was even more delicious than the Hellfire Wings on the table in front of me.
“I knew it!” I screamed even though Lucifer was only a few feet away from me. “Tell me who traded their soul for an Oscar. I really must know!”
I really did have to know. For some odd reason, this was suddenly the most important thing in the world to me. Was it because I wanted to know who the cheaters were? Or was it more because I wanted an Oscar of my own and it pissed me off that others had done nefarious things in order to get one?
“There is no way I could tell you that,” The Prince of Darkness replied with a shake of his head. “Those Hollywood types have the best lawyers money can buy, and they always have me sign iron clad confidentiality agreements. If I whisper a word to anyone, the deal is null and void. I lose my soul, but their client gets to keep the Oscar. I really need to recruit some of those lawyers to work for me.”
“I can’t believe you’d ever sign such an agreement,” I quipped as I sipped my Snapple.
The Devil hung his head. “I’m just a dorky fan boy, too, when it comes to Hollywood. I’d do anything to get A List actors to spend eternity in Hell rather than up in Heaven with the competition. I think the lawyers know that because they always negotiate like they have me over a barrel.”
That mental image both disgusted and intrigued me. “So you’re saying they negotiate a better deal than just an Oscar in exchange for their client’s soul?”
Lucifer flashed an embarrassed smile. “Have you ever wondered why certain actors have hit after hit, huge pay day after huge pay day, and never seem to lose their looks? It’s because their lawyers got all that out of me in return for one soul. I know it’s a horrible deal for me, but I really don’t care, Austin.”
“I’m tired of being surrounded by wretched souls for all eternity,” he continued after he loosened his tie. “Why do you think I spend so much time here? I like having a little glitz and glamor down in Hell, so I let them make their outrageous demands, and I give them everything their spoiled, entitled hearts desire because in the end, all I care about is having that Hollywood soul to pretty up my view at the office.”
“You know it,” The Devil replied and held up his Snapple bottle for a toast.
I tapped his bottle with mine. “I suppose you want me to keep this on the down low?”
“Unless you want to wake up every morning to find Seamus passed out in your shower and covered in puke,” he replied. “I can also arrange for it to never again stop snowing in Maine. I’ll leave it up to you.”
Wow. Where were those fierce negotiating skills when the Hollywood lawyers were sitting across the table from him?