Chapter Six

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The car ride home is quiet. Eva doesn't tell Noah about her encounter with the auburn-haired guy, or her suspicions that he'd stolen a file from the station. 

Maybe it's because there's a part of her that thinks he might be innocent; that she is just on high alert after an immeasurably stressful day. Or, maybe she doesn't want to burden her brother with another issue to sort out. Or maybe she's just had enough crazy for one day. 

Whatever the reason, she chooses to keep the information to herself and represses the shadow of guilt that gnaws inside her. 

"Did you think it over?" Noah probes, breaking the silence. 

"What?" Eva asks, eyes trained on the tower blocks of East London as the fly by in a blur of soulless grey. 

"Did you decide to tell Mum and Dad about today?" he clarifies, fingers tapping impatiently on the steering wheel.

"Oh, I - er - I don't know yet," she shrugs.

"They'll want to know where you got those scratches, you know," he points out, eyes flicking quickly from the road to her arms and back again. 

"I'll just say Michael's cat scratched me," she justifies, pulling the sleeves of her top over her bandages for good measure. 

Noah looks sceptical, "I don't understand you, Eva," he says, his voice laced with both annoyance and endearment. "You act like you need to do everything by yourself. Like you don't ever need anyone's help. But you do. Everyone needs help sometimes." 

"Dad always says that you should never depend on anyone for anything," she says dismissively. 

The sentiment makes a lot of sense to her. As someone who's had everything ripped away from her once before, she understands why dependency can make a bad situation far worse. 

"I don't care what Dad says!" Noah exclaims vehemently, slamming his hand against the steering wheel in an uncharacteristic break from his usually composed facade. "He lives by that motto, and look where that got him! He came back from Afganistan a broken man! He can't walk, for god's sake!" 

Eva doesn't reply, but angry tears sting at the back of her eyes. She holds them back, refusing to let Noah see how he'd hurt her. 

"Look, I'm sorry, I just think you put too much on yourself, that's all," he says, his voice softer now. 

The car has stopped, and Eva quickly unclips her seatbelt and throws the door open. 

"Thanks for the ride," she murmurs, bitterness caught in her words. 

"Eva, don't-" Noah begins to say before she cuts him off with a swift slam of the car door. 

She runs up the steps, half expecting - and half hoping - her brother to follow her. He hasn't left the car by the time she reaches the door, and as she fumbles for her keys he revs the engine and pulls away from the curb. 

The house smells like her father's homemade chilli con carne as she walks through the threshold. Despite her anger towards Noah, a sweet sense of nostalgia accompanies the scent, and it cools her resentment a little. 

"Eva? Is that you?" her mother's voice calls from the living room. 

"Yeah," she replies, dropping her keys in the bowl on the console table and hanging her coat up. 

Her parents are watching an old episode of Homes Under the Hammer as she pokes her head through the doorway. 

"I thought you'd be home a bit earlier," her mother remarks, head inclined towards Eva but eyes still on the TV. 

Suzanne Carlisle is a woman of practicalities. Every inch of her appearance is born from functionality rather than aesthetics. Her greying hair is tied in a simple but neat bun and her warmly welcoming face is free from makeup. She must've only come home an hour or so ago since she's still wearing her paramedics uniform, though she has replaced her well-polished black shoes with a pair of fluffy slippers. 

"Sorry, Michael and I started watching a movie and it was a bit longer than we thought it'd be," she lies.

"Can you at least let us know if you're going to be late?" her mother chides. "We worry."

"I know," Eva mutters. 

"There's some dinner left for you on the stove," her father adds. "Chilli con carne," he smiles. "My specialty." 

Richard Carlisle is a polar opposite from his wife. His attire is less conservative and more 'I got dressed in the dark'. Today, he's wearing a tired Van Halen t-shirt - though Eva doubts he even still listens to their music - and a pair of yellow cargo shorts. 

He likes to call himself a maverick, and as Eva wanders into the kitchen to dish herself up some chilli, she spots his latest culinary experimentation. 

Every once in a while, he'll play around with one of his old recipes in an attempt to improve it. Mostly, his ideas render the food almost inedible, but today, the familiar dish has a pleasantly sweet tang of pineapple. 

"This is good, Dad," she praises, as she wanders back into the lounge, a heaped plateful in her hands. 

"Thanks," he replies, switching the channel over just as the opening credits of Britain's Got Talent blare on the screen. 

"Eva," her mother asks tentatively, the light atmosphere quickly dissolving. "What did you do to your arms?" 

She casts her eyes down to her arms, her sleeves now rolled up high, bandages on full display, and curses herself for forgetting to roll them back down after dishing out her food. 

"Oh, Michael's cat scratched me," she says quietly, careful not to meet either of her parent's eyes.

"They might need sterilising," her mother says, reaching for her arms. "Let me see." 

Eva flinches away, knowing that the wounds are too deep to have been inflicted by Michael's tiny Siamese cat. The moment her mother sees them, she'll know she's lying. 

"No, it's alright, Michael already put some antiseptic on them. I'll be fine." 

"Eva, I don't want them to get infected. I'll get my kit, just let me have a look," her mother presses. 

Eva begins to panic, racking her brains for a way to avoid her mother seeing her torn arms without arousing suspicion. Nothing comes to mind, and as her mother leaves the room to get the medical kit, her father shoots her a confused expression. 

"Mum, honestly, it's fine," she says, trying to disguise the anxiety in her voice. 

Her mother makes a dismissive gesture and holds out her hand for Eva's arm. Reluctantly, she brings her arm up and winces as her mother begins to unravel the bandages.

The first dressing falls to the floor as Eva's skin is exposed. Her eyes remain trained on her mother's face, which smooths to a familiar expression of concentration. The same expression she'd had every time she'd dealt with a scraped knee or a paper cut when they were kids. 

Eva takes a hesitant glance at her arm, expecting to see the deep gashes that had ribboned her skin just hours before. 

But they aren't there. Tiny hairline scrapes pattern the skin, no deeper than cat scratches.  

A/N: Hey guys, hope you enjoyed this chapter and are enjoying the whole story. I'd love to hear what you guys think, so remember to vote and don't be afraid to comment your thoughts :) Follow me miss_echo_ for regular updates or add my story to your library for notifications when I update. Thanks for reading xx

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