“Going to The Roman Empire,” Trip says. “Me, you, Vandalia and her consort. I have to find out more about Angel and the other woman.” Trip has told Mowgli everything she did that afternoon, but he still isn’t computing. It’s difficult for him to switch from computer geek to party animal without some downtime in between. Besides, he has yet to adapt to Trip’s come-hither look as he’s grown fond of her tomboyish, no-nonsense persona. Seeing her tarted up reminds him of when he first met her, and he, like she, doesn’t care to remember those days.
Trip had raced home from Tosca’s impatient to look up information about Andretti, but to her dismay, there was nothing relevant on Ricardo Andretti. There was one in Modesto, but he was ninety-five years old. There was one in New Jersey, but that didn’t help her. Then she thought of trying just Andretti, but that was hopeless. She was incensed that her hot new information did little to propel her forward. She wondered if Seamus had misheard, but there weren’t many names that sounded similar to Ricardo. She would have to do further sleuthing on this point before she could do an efficient search. After that, she had gone out and shopped until her credit card screamed from exhaustion, but it had been worth it. She had spent almost five-hundred dollars on clothes, and there wasn’t a speck of black to be seen. By the time she returned to Vandalia’s, Mowgli was already comfortably ensconced on the living room couch.
“The Roman Empire,” Mowgli repeats, as if he’s never heard the name before. “You, Delilah Esther Wire want to go to a strip club.” His voice couldn’t be more dubious if Trip had said she wanted to run with the bulls in Spain.
“I don’t want to go,” Trip replies tersely. “Try to keep up here. That’s where the dead girl worked. There’s another girl who’s involved in the case who might work there as well. Vandalia thought it’d be a good idea if I didn’t go alone.”
“Well, she’s right about that.” Mowgli is frowning as he looks up at Trip from his place on the couch. She’s still standing, unable to unwind. “I don’t like what this case is doing to you.”
“Neither do I,” Trip shoots back. “That’s why I have to find the motherfuckers.”
“Del, you sure you want to do this? Maybe it’ll die out by itself.”
“Yes, I’m sure!” Trip stares down at Mowgli, daring him to defy her. “I got off the fucking streets and got a fucking life. I damn well want to make sure I can keep living it.” This has moved beyond a matter of pride for Trip—it’s becoming personal. If she can’t find the motherfuckers and bring them to some kind of justice, she’ll be running around for the rest of her life looking over her shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“Then I’m in,” Mowgli says simply. Trip thumps him on the head in appreciation before sliding onto the couch next to him. They are watching the Food Network when Vandalia comes home.