Chapter Three

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Two hours later Eva sits with a paper cup of weak tea in one hand and a pencil in the other. She'd mentioned the distinctive tattoo the guy had had banding his forearm, and Noah had asked her if she could reproduce it. 

It was a fairly simple design, but five crumpled sheets of paper later and she's nowhere close to recreating it. 

"How are you doing?" a warm voice pulls her away from her frustration. 

Noah's partner, Lydia, slides into the chair across the cluttered desk. 

Lydia has been Noah's partner ever since he graduated from the Police Academy four years ago. She is a little older than he is, in her early thirties, and had a sunny sort of smile that never fails to make Eva feel safe. Her unruly brown hair is pulled up into a messy bun atop her head, skewered by two or three lidless biros that Eva's sure she's forgotten she's put there. 

"I can't get this symbol to look right," Eva grumbles, crumpling up her current drawing and tossing it in the bin with the rest of her failed attempts. 

"No, I mean about... today," Lydia says softly.

"Oh, I -- er, I'm fine," Eva replies, eyes trained on another blank sheet. 

It had taken her a good fifteen minutes to calm her breathing enough to regale the whole story to Noah. Reciting it was like an exorcism, and after she'd finished a sense of relief had washed over her. 

Though cathartic, the comfort was short-lived. A burning torrent of anger had filled the space where fear had simmered, like the exorcism had left space for something far fouler to fester. 

She'd felt vulnerable in that moment, and although she'd managed to fend off her attacker, she hated herself for letting fear get the better of her. 

"Are you sure?" Lydia asks, honey-brown eyes sceptical, "You don't always have to be so brave, you know."

"I know," Eva rubs her freshly bandaged arms and takes a sip from her cooling tea. 

"Where did your friend go? The tall blonde boy?" Lydia asks, changing the topic. 

"I told him to go home," Eva replies, making a few more marks on her sketchpad. 

It had been an effort to convince Michael that she was alright, but eventually, after watching her eat her way through a whole pack of biscuits from the office kitchen, he seemed satisfied that she was back to herself enough for him to leave. 

That hadn't stopped him coming back one more time, though, bloodied rock in hand. Eva had seen him give it to Lydia, who'd efficiently slipped it into a clear plastic bag and carried it off into one of the back rooms. 

"We're going to run the blood on the rock through the system," Lydia informs her, "Maybe it'll turn up something. And Noah's keeping tabs on anyone that comes into any nearby hospitals with a broken jaw. I promise you, your brother and I will do everything we can to find this guy." 

Lydia's voice is reassuring, but doubt swells in the back of Eva's mind. The guy had seemed inhuman, otherworldly. The sort of person who could only be found if they wanted to be found. 

"Thanks," she murmurs, setting the cold cup of tea back down on the busy desk. 

Lydia stares at it distastefully, "Who made you this? It's not weak, it's helpless," she exclaims dramatically. "I'll get you another one." 

Eva watches her make her way towards the kitchen for a moment before refocusing her attention on her sketch. 

This time, the drawing seems to bear some resemblance to the guy's tattoo. The finishing swish at the end doesn't fall quite right, but other than that she is pleased with the outcome. 

Noah is sitting at a desk halfway across the room, eyes locked on the screen of his computer, the artificial glow draining the colour from his face. 

She slides the sketchpad off the desk and moves away from the table, head bent over her handiwork. 

She only takes a couple of steps before she walks right into somebody's firm shoulder. 

"Crap, I'm sorry," she stammers, a warm flush creeping up her neck. 

"Watch where you're going," a low voice mutters, cut with a crisp American accent. 

The owner of the voice and shoulder is a tall, muscular guy, of about nineteen. He's over a head taller than Eva, and, the first thing she notices is how undeniably good-looking he is. Every inch of him screams beauty. The sort of attractiveness that puts the 'b' in subtle. 

Almost everything about him is warm and firey. His wild, auburn hair is shot with strands of gold, like precious metals in a melting pot, and his eyes are a deep, dark brown; disarmingly intense. His skin is the colour of spilled honey and his features are soft and angular all at once. 

He's dressed in plain clothes, the sort of thing someone wears when they know that their attire isn't the main event. They look expensive though, designer, but not obviously so. It's probably the only subtle thing about him. 

Eva blinks, realising she's been staring, and the warmth in her neck climbs up into her cheeks. 

He doesn't seem to notice, his intense eyes barely giving her a second look. It's then that she sees the only unattractive thing about him -- the expression of detached distaste across his face. It doesn't seem specifically directed towards her, but rather an outward-reaching disdain and annoyance that Eva has the misfortune of being caught under. 

A heavy moment passes, and then he's turning on his heel and sauntering the other way without a second look back. 




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