Chapter Five

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"This is good," Noah says, giving the quick sketch a once-over. 

Eva smiles faintly, hoping the drawing will be enough to find the guy who'd attacked her. Hoping she'd get a chance to make him regret ever messing with her in the first place.

"I'll send this out to other nearby stations, see if they can turn up anything," Noah adds, an intense determination suddenly catching light in his eyes. "We'll get him, I swear to you." 

A sharp surge of affection washes over Eva, and she thanks whatever force had brought her to her brother fifteen years ago. 

She was only two when a tiny fracture in a metal gas pipe had obliterated everything she'd ever loved. She barely remembered her parents or the fatal night in which they had perished. The firefighters called to the conflagration expected to find three scorched corpses, but instead found a girl, barely out of infancy, crying in the ashes of her broken home. 

It was a miracle she'd survived the blaze. The police figured her parents had managed to tame the flames enough to save their daughter; just not enough to save themselves. Though she had not escaped the night untouched. Her hand still bore the memory of the inferno - a wound so deep that it would never heal. 

A family - her family - had taken her in. The father was a marine and the mother, a paramedic who'd been called to the scene that fateful night. They had one son, Noah, who'd only been eleven at the time, but had immediately taken to the frightened little girl, fresh from the still-cooling embers of her former life. 

They'd brought her up as if she were their own, and, though it fills her with guilt to admit, sometimes she forgets that she'd ever had parents before them. 

"I'll just sort this out, and then I'll take you home. Mum and Dad will be worried," Noah says, taking the sketch pad out of Eva's hands. 

"You haven't told them what happened, have you?" Eva asks, her eyes narrowing in concern. 

"No, not yet," Noah replies. 

"Good. Don't," she says, and Noah shoots her a confused expression. 

"I don't want to worry them," she clarifies. "It won't do any good telling them, they can't do anything to help." 

"Look, Eva, I know they molly-coddle you too much, but it's because they love you. They just want to protect you. You need someone to talk to about this."

"I have you. And Michael," Eva retorts. 

She knows that if she tells either of her parents about the guy in the graveyard they won't ever let her go back there alone again. But visiting the graves is therapeutic, and gives her a sense of closeness with her real parents that she was never really able to experience when they were alive. It's something she always needs to do alone. 

"Alright, look, I won't tell them. But you should. Just think about it, okay?" Noah sighs. 

Eva nods, hoping the noncommital gesture is enough to make her brother drop the subject.

"I'll be back in a minute," he says, seemingly satisfied with her somewhat lackluster response. 

Eva slides into his desk chair as Noah strides quickly into the throng of people bustling around the office. Her eyes follow him to a row of frosted glass doors on the other side of the room, and he quickly disappears into the third one from the right. 

As soon as Noah's door swings shut, an identical door to its left cracks open, and a figure steps swiftly out. 

Eva recognises the figure immediately. The handsome auburn-haired guy she'd bumped into earlier. He has something in his hands; a thin file, which he quickly tucks into his jacket. He checks that no one has seen him, and ducks his head, quickly melting into the crowd of people. 

Eva jumps out of her chair, barely giving herself enough time to think before she makes a beeline for him. 

He's almost at the exit to the office when she manages to catch up with him, and as he reaches for the door, she slams a hand against it, not hard enough to stop him pulling the door open if he wanted to, but it's enough to grab his attention. 

"What do you think you're doing?" she demands, hand still splayed against the door. 

"What?" the guy asks, faint annoyance spreading across his face. 

His eyes are darkly fierce, and for a second, she struggles for the words.

"I saw you put something in your jacket. What did you steal?" Eva accuses.

His face contorts, from irate to dryly humoured, "I didn't steal anything. And even if I did, I doubt you have the authority or the nerve to stop me. You don't even work here." 

"No, but I know people that do, and if I say you took something, they'll take my word over yours in a heartbeat. So, I suggest that you hand over whatever you've got tucked in your jacket right now," she counters, holding out an indignant hand. 

The guy laughs, a short, mirthless sound, and unzips his jacket. 

No folder slips out, the inner lining of the coat is uninterrupted by anything incriminating, and for the second time today, an angry blush climbs up Eva's neck. 

The guy leans down, his lips barely an inch away from her ear, "A word of advice, next time you accuse someone of stealing, make sure you've got your facts straight." 



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