In response to curious:
Eva's fingers twisted on the tap and let the hot water run over her freezing hands. She glanced up at her face nervously, noting the deep dark circles under her eyes. She hated when her appearance wasn't completely immaculate—and right now she looked like a complete wreck.
And her hair was red. She didn't like it that color. It didn't match her appearance at all, but it had afforded good cover for the crazy trip.
She splashed some water onto her face and blinked blearily as the water coated her eyelashes. She reached out blindly to the side, feeling the fabric beneath her fingers. The towel came free and she rubbed away the beads forming on her cheeks.
She never should have gone back. But she had to. It was her home.
A soft knock came at the door.
"Don't come in," she commanded. "I look crappy."
"Well, no wonder," Anthony's muffled voice returned. He ignored her command and pushed to door open. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to go?"
Eva leaned into his form as he wrapped his arms about her middle. "You never would have let me."
"Dang right I wouldn't have," he murmured into her hair. "If any one had seen you they would have screwed you over."
Eva bristled slightly. "That's not your choice to make. I have my rights."
She pulled back to look at him. "And someone did see me."
Anthony stiffened. It was the only real display of emotion. His face remained emotionless and unreadable. But she knew him well enough to know what kind of thoughts were running through his seemingly unaffected brain. He was scared and he wanted to make sure that all their bases were covered.
"Who? Does he want to hurt us? Were you followed?"
"No, I wasn't followed. And it was a she. It was Christine."
"You should have been more careful," he chastised.
"I was careful," she snapped back in irritation, before lowering her voice to a more conversational tone. "I wore a hoodie when I went into town and didn't leave my car—except when it got dark. I wasn't planning to let anyone see me but my family. But everything was just so familiar to me. All the memories kept coming back—so I took a walk."
Anthony muffled his intake of disapproval. She sent him a glance to let him know that she'd caught it before continuing. She wasn't really mad at him, but there was no way she was going to let him tell her it was a mistake. It was just something that she'd had to do.
"It was dark out," she said, emphasizing the fact again. "I didn't think anyone would see me, but Christine was on her porch when I walked by. I heard her sniffling. She was crying, Anthony. And she had her face turned away from me because she didn't want some passerby to see how distressed she was. You know how prideful she is."
Anthony nodded almost imperceptibly.
"I stopped in my tracks when I recognized her. It was like an automatic reaction. I know I should have kept on walking with my head ducked, but it was like I was paralyzed. I couldn't help it. I guess she turned around to tell me to get lost, and then she saw my face. And she screamed. It set me off and I started running. I got out of town as quick as I could. But the weird thing is that no police came to chase me down like I expected. I mean, we signed the contract. Literally, they could have hunted us down."
"But things are different in Splinter Bridge these days," Anthony returned. "With all the bad things that happened there, they now have a full-fledged police force. And I'm pretty sure the townies wouldn't be willing to share that past information with the police. The whole town would end up in jail—or something."
Eva shrugged, feeling his body heat against her. "Well, I've seen Splinter Bridge again. I don't have the urge anymore. And I'm safe."
Anthony's fingers drew through her hair. "And that's what matters."
Warm and sweet emotions tingled through her. She loved him. She always would. She'd loved him ever since she was in Middle School. She'd never expected to ever have him then. But he was hers.
"Let's stay together forever," she murmured, knowing her words sounded cheesy.
Anthony's chest rumbled with his chuckle against her cheek. "I married you, didn't I? I'm not going anywhere."
She slapped him lightly for the cocky statement and then grinned. "I love you."
She felt his smile against the top of her head as he breathed out. "I wonder what happened to the others. We have no way of getting in contact with them now."
Eva nodded with a sigh. "I guess we'll never know."
"It's too bad, really," Anthony returned. "I'd really like to know what happened to them all. Especially Denny and Lynne. You know, they really are the reason things turned out as they did."
"I'm glad it turned out like that. I would feel so stifled to be locked in that stalemate still," Eva returned fiercely.
She pulled back from him then. "I need to fix myself up."
Anthony shook his head in bewilderment. "It's three o'clock in the morning! Let's just go to bed."
"So that's all you can think about at a time like this," Eva teased.
"Ha ha," Anthony replied, his tone sarcastic although his face was straight. "I was thinking more about some z's than making babies, but if you're in the mood…" his voice trailed off.
She stuck out her tongue in response to his comment. "Just z's for me."
He sent her a wounded expression, displayed on purpose for effect. "I'm hurt, Eva. Truly."
She grinned and shook her head, pulling a brush through her hair. "You know I love you."
He nodded. "Night beautiful. Don't let this keep you up all night, festering."
She smiled wanly. "No, the worse is past. We have a good future ahead of us."
He yawned. "You know it," and pulled a hand through his blond curly hair before disappearing down the hall.