Chapter Two

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Alex, mind racing, stared dumbfounded at Laura. She had always thought that Laura might still have a crush on her, but she did her best to ignore it. It would only cause problems, anyway, and Alex respected Laura too much to just sleep with her and cast her aside afterwards... despite that being exactly what Alex had done the first night they had met.

But details.

Both of Laura's brows were lifted as she peered steadily at Alex. "So are you going to let me in, or continue staring at me like I just murdered your parents?"

Finally, the doctor came to her senses, and managed to reply, "A mob princess can't joke about murdering people, it's eerie." Alex took a step back and gestured towards the living room. "Come on in. Gabe's already here."

"I don't murder people, my henchmen murder people," Laura said. "Plus why can't you just say weird instead of eerie like a normal person?" She stepped in, wiping her snow boots on the floor mat before taking them and her jacket off. "I didn't know Gabe was also going to be here," Laura added after a moment, not making eye contact with Alex.

Alex blinked. She could've sworn she had told Laura that Gabe was also coming over, but maybe she had meant to and forgotten. Either way, Alex was glad Gabe was there, to make sure the mistletoe incident stayed... an incident. The last thing Alex ever wanted to do was talk about feelings. Blegh.

"Weird and eerie are synonyms," Alex pointed out. She appeared thoughtful. "Both words would have made sense within that context... though I used 'eerie' because it also denotes a sense of creepiness or feeling unnerved whereas 'weird' is more likely to mean 'bizarre' or 'odd.' My point, in any case, was that we were talking about murder and murder is less bizarre than it is creepy or unnerving of a topic. Wouldn't you agree?"

Laura stared blankly at her and then simply said, "Nerd."

Alex offered a sheepish smile. "As for Gabe, he said he had nothing better to do so I thought the three of us could have our very own pathetic Christmas pity party."

"Sounds good to me," Laura gestured inside. "After you, Sterling."

Alex headed towards the living room, Laura following close behind.

"Hey Costa," Gabe said, smiling at her, "looking sexy."

Laura beamed at him, her entire face lighting up like a Christmas tree. "Thank you, Gabe!" She took a spot on the couch opposite him, and Alex sat down beside her. "So why do you have nothing to do on Christmas? I know Alex likes being the prodigal daughter of the Sterling family, and my dad isn't around tonight, so what's your deal?"

Gabe stretched his entire body across on the couch like a cat. He shrugged, a lazy smile on his lips. "My parents are all the way in California and I didn't feel like spending my hard-earned cash on a plane ticket. So the big bad Ciro Costa isn't in town? Where is he?"

"No idea," Laura said with a slight shrug, leaning back into the couch, the side of her leg pressing lightly against Alex's. "He's been acting crazy lately. He has been since Anthony's seventh year death anniversary, which was about three weeks ago. Not to mention the blow we just took thanks to the Grecos... he seems a bit nervous. They haven't lashed out like that in years. They ambushed a warehouse and basically emptied it overnight. My dad was furious."

"What was in the warehouse that they needed to empty?" Gabe asked, taking a sip of his beer. Alex could tell he was trying very hard to seem casual, but he was just as curious as she was.

Laura shifted uncomfortably and averted her gaze from her two friends. "Women, I think," she said, her voice soft. "My dad is paranoid that the Grecos want to take over the sex trade from us."

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