Chapter Four

67.1K 2K 3K

"It was a long time ago, for about two months give or take," Val said, waving her hand in the air as if to shoo the label of 'ex' away. "Totally not a big deal."

Laura was now staring at Val as if through new eyes. Alex wasn't sure which was more obvious, the intense jealousy or the admiration.

"How did you get her to commit?" Laura asked, leaning back against the bar. She shot Alex a sidelong glance. "I thought Alex committing to a relationship was the stuff of legends."

The Greco woman spun the straw around her drink then took a sip. She let out a humorless laugh. "It was pretty short-lived," Val said, lifting her eyes to Alex's again. "It probably didn't even really count."

The look of mischief was gone, and instead Val looked... honest, like her old self. It caught Alex off guard, causing her heart to thud harder against her chest.

The blonde woman was still staring at Val, seemingly speechless. She had never felt so tongue-tied. What was she supposed to say? Was she supposed to go along with this casual mood Val was setting? Why did Gabe disappear when she needed him for moral support?

"It counts," Alex said, surprised when she heard the words force themselves from her throat. Val was clearly pretending that the encounter they had had last week hadn't happened, so Alex decided to play along. She took another minute to look Val slowly up and down again. Her soul quaked. "You look good, Val."

Val... saying that name out loud... it still felt strange.

Saying Val looked 'good' was the biggest understatement Alex had ever made, but she wasn't about to gush over Val's appearance in front of Laura. Or in front of Val. Or in front of anyone. That was the kind of thing only Gabe was allowed to witness.

Val smiled warmly at her. It looked... familiar.

Thud, thud, thud. Alex resisted the urge to rest her hand over her beating heart, to feel the muscle pounding as hard as it had seven years ago, as if it had been simply sleeping this entire time and was finally waking up.

Val watched Alex with a searching gaze. Her smile turned secretive. "So do you. It's been a while."

Technically it's only been a week, Alex thought, remembering how Val had coldly told her to back off before letting Salvatore beat her unconscious.

But maybe she means it's been a while since I've seen... the real her?

Alex looked for the bandage on Val's head but the girl's dark brown hair covered the part of her forehead where it would've been. She then tried to examine the way Val was standing, and noticed that Val was leaning heavily on the counter. Her side was probably still hurting her, but the pain was likely very manageable, at least, more manageable than it had been a week ago, and even back then Val had been putting on a front to appear fine. Alex figured it had to do with some stupid 'show no weakness' mafia rule. The Sterlings had had something similar. It was probably more literal when it came to the mafia.

"Why don't you sit down?" Alex said to Val, gesturing to the free stool beside Laura.

Val took the seat, and her expression became thoughtful. She looked around the club, her eyes flickering over to where her posse of girlfriends were all doing shots and chatting up a group of men. "Man, this place has changed." She slid a fingernail across the wooden bar. "It's so... different compared to before."

Laura looked around the club as well, as if trying to see what Val saw. "I've never been to the place before, when Alex owned it. Did you like it?"

Lost Then FoundWhere stories live. Discover now