An extract from Tom and Eva
Tom wandered his way along the streets in the dark. His father was waiting at home, probably in a deep silence. It was tempting to fall back to his refuge, the happy home down the end of a muddy lane. But he found himself heading along another route.
Eva’s front windows were alight. Fairy lights cast pink shadows on the wall. Tom knocked and her face appeared.
“Tom!” she exclaimed. She wrapped him in an enormous bear hug.
“What was that for?” Tom smiled a little.
“That’s what friends do,” declared Eva. “Come in. We’re eating Chinese to celebrate.”
Hank Carmichael swallowed his salt and pepper squid audibly upon seeing Tom. But Tom only smelt the wafting scent of fried rice and pork. He smiled at Hank’s face as he seated himself opposite.
“Dad, go and find us some sauce, why don’t you?” coaxed Eva. Her father was quick to answer. An uncomfortable spasm sent him racing into the next room. “He’s scared, you know,” said Eva thoughtfully. “The McFarlanes will be in disgrace, and probably him as well.”
She shot him a wide blue stare. “You must be happy. Now they’ll have to suffer what you did.”
Tom shrugged. “I don’t care. That’s not important now. I feel free. And not just from this town, but from Veuve and … what my mother did to us.”
“Harold told me,” said Eva simply. “And no one else knows.”
“Thank you,” said Tom. It felt so wonderful to have a friend, to have someone who understood, after years of darkness.
Eva grinned. “And that reminds me. Adam owes you an apology.”
“I should hope so,” remarked Tom.
“I made a deal with him,” said Eva cunningly. “If he was wrong about your family, he had to apologise to you.”
Tom felt a raw ache to his ribs. “And Hugh?”
“Some sheep never change their ways,” said Eva. “Adam, despite his idiocy, his mediocre good looks, his sports-hero physique,
does have the tiny beginnings of a conscience.”
Tom laughed. “But you thought he was hot.”
Eva blinked thoughtfully. “Y-e-s, I did. But all that fear, it does something to the face, doesn’t it?”
“I guess,” shrugged Tom.
“You know it!” she called back.
She suddenly jumped up. “Movie marathon tonight! Popcorn, cheesy horror and ice cream sundaes.”
“Like when we were kids?”
“No,” smiled Eva. “Like we are now.”
Tom pretended to consider it. “I have a lonely father at home.”
“He can come,” offered Eva. She was popping a little now, the excitement in her eyes invigorating.
“I suppose,” sighed Tom. “For old time’s sake.”
“Indeed,” she said with a smile. She raised her plastic cup in a mock toast. “To friendship.”
“Freedom,” echoed Tom as the plastic clunked.
“And to Tom and Eva,” she concluded.