Chapter Seven

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Alex knew she was dreaming because of three key details.

First, she wasn't wearing pants, for some reason.

Second, her brother David was making spaghetti in her bathtub.

And third, Val was with her.

But it was different now. Ever since Val had... come back, the 'Val' of her dreams had morphed to match the new Val. Gone was the image of teenage Val from Alex's memory, and here to stay was the adult Val, the underboss of the ruthless Greco mafia.

Dream-Val sat on the corner of Alex's bed, her long dark hair tumbling down her back. She was wearing a backless black dress, one slender leg crossed over the other, one hand in her lap and the other tracing patterns into the bedsheets with the tip of a finger.

"Val..." Alex's voice sounded strange. She wasn't sure if she had said anything at all.

'Val' turned to look at her, her red lips curving into her mischievous smirk as green eyes dipped to take in the view. "Occhi'egghiaccio," she purred, amusement swirling behind her eyes. She reached into her chest, as if it were a black hole, and pulled out a double-sided axe, which she then held out to Alex. "I am not safe until you are safe," she said, offering Alex a smile as blood began to drip from the gash in her chest.

"Val!"

"It's okay," Val assured her, smiling. "It's okay..." she said again, gripping onto Alex's shoulders. "It's okay." She held tighter. "It's okay." Tighter. "It's okay, Alex, it's okay. You'll be okay."

Alex jolted awake, her eyes opening wide as she found herself staring straight at the familiar wall of her bedroom. She squeezed her fingers to her palm, half-expecting to find the hilt of the axe in it. Instead her fist closed around nothing.

"Alex," Laura said from beside her, voice soft. Alex rolled around to look at her girlfriend. Laura offered a soothing smile, though it was clear she was trying not to look as concerned as she felt. "It's okay," she cooed. She gently reached over to run her fingers through Alex's thick hair. "You were having another nightmare. Do you need me to get you your pills?"

"No I... I'm okay, thank you." Alex let out a shuddered breath, relaxing further into the warmth of her bed. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. The familiar, sweet scent that clung to Laura's skin, her clothes, served to calm Alex further. There was always something comforting about Laura's presence. Few people had that effect on her. "I smell coffee," Alex said, smiling as she peered up at Laura, half her face buried still in soft pillow.

Laura rolled her eyes. "Straight to the point, as usual." Laura turned around and pulled a tray off the bedside table.

Alex sat up, leaning against the headboard, and blinked as Laura placed the tray on her lap. Alex stared down at the meal—three scrambled eggs, a large mug of coffee— black, of course—and some buttered toast. It was charming in its simplicity.

"You made me breakfast," Alex said, sounding surprised.

Laura's cheeks flushed a light pink and she tried to play it off in a nonchalant shrug. "Well it is Valentine's Day."

Alex's eyes snapped to Laura's. "It's what?"

Laura frowned. "You're kidding. What did you think I meant when I said this is a first for us last night?"

Alex racked her brain. She couldn't even remember Laura saying that, really. "To be fair," Alex started, slowly, "we were... busy when you said that."

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