“Good night, Shell,” she said. That’s what she said. But it’s not what I heard, because she murmured those words in a hormone-heated burning-velvet voice that could make “NO!” sound like, “Yes, of course, darling.” So naturally I said, still smiling hugely, “What? Good what?” But by then she had turned into a door. Specifically, the just-closed door of room 626, Dane’s room, in the luxurious Halcyon Hotel, a new thousand-room hostel cloaked in lush and softly-illumined greenery, resplendent on the edge of Beverly Hills. Yes, the Beverly Hills of millionaires and billionaires, in Southern California, right next door to Hollywood—where I live in the Spartan Apartment Hotel on North Rossmore from whence I often occupy myself pursuing assorted evildoers: grifters and swindlers, killers and con-men, sophisticated crooks and slobbish hoodlums. Plus on occasion beauteous lasses—like the lovely who had just murmured invitingly in a voice hot enough to melt earwax, “Good night, Shell.” That’s me, Sheldon “Shell” Scott, private eye, former optimist. It was a really depressing moment, a lot like how the Prince must feel when he turns back into a frog. Because not only had there been that humongous kiss, or KISS—which I’ll get to in a minute—but this lady was transcendental, electric, almost glowing, bright and brainy enough to do cube roots in her pretty head, gorgeous as a South Pacific sunrise made entirely of naked angels, with the kind of eye-bruising body I might have invented myself if I’d had eons to get it just right. We had been—and now, alas, I was—dawdling in the thickly-carpeted hallway outside the door of room 626, having apparently just come to the end of a splendid October evening. An evening notable for icy-cold Martinis in the hotel’s Sybaris Lounge, followed by butter-oozing crab legs for her and red-rare prime ribs of beef au plenty jus for me in the Gourmet Room six floors below. Below Dane’s room, into which I had fondly imagined I might within seconds scoot with Dane Zanie, there to drink more Martinis, and eat the cute olives, and talk and laugh and—perhaps, perhaps—merrily explore a whole catalogue of sinful fantasies.