What if Beauty was the Beast?/Skin Deep

Can't say anything without ruining the first chapter.
The title pretty much gives it away anyway :)

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1. Chapter One

      Thunder roared in the distance but it was the lightning that made me jump. It had struck so close that I could smell the patch of burnt ground from where I stood. My eyes hurt from the brightness of the lightning and I rubbed my arms to try and warm myself up. I was soaked to the bone and it was still pouring down. I trudged onwards flinching when lightning struck again. It was further away this time. As the cars on the road sped by I wondered what would have happened if the lightning had hit me. Would I have died? Would my body have been found by some unlucky passerby? Would someone have tried to find out who I was? Would they have informed my parents? Would they have cared? Now that question was one I knew the answer to. No, my parents didn’t care about me. They had proved it six months ago. Stepping in a puddle I cursed when water soaked into my holey trainers. Great, now I had wet feet too. I stopped and shook my foot in an attempt to dislodge the water. Car headlights fell on me and I was startled when a car pulled up beside me. The driver wound down the window.

      “Hey, kid,” he called. “You want a lift?”

      Reassured that my face was concealed by my hood and the hair that was plastered to my cheeks, I glanced up. The driver, a man in his late forties, was gazing at me. I opened my mouth to say no but hesitated. It was the first time that anyone had ever stopped to offer me a ride. Even when it had been snowing no one had thought about me as I walked at the side of the road.

      “Come on,” the man said kindly. “You’re getting drenched. I’ll drop you off wherever you want to go.”

      It would be warm in the car and I spotted a bag of sweets on the dashboard. Maybe I could grab some when the man wasn’t looking? I hadn’t eaten anything all day. The sweets seemed to tip the scales because I found myself reaching for the door handle.

      “How long had you been walking for?” asked the man as I got into the car.

       Closing the door I silently put my seatbelt on. Then realizing that I was being rude I said. “Thank you for stopping and offering me a lift.” My voice was gravelly from lack of use.

      The man started driving again. “I’m Mark by the way.”

      “I’m Isobel.”

       “So where do you want dropping off, Isobel?”

      It was so warm and cosy in the car. When was the last time I had been somewhere like this?

      “Isobel?”

      Blinking I said. “Pardon?”

      Mark smiled kindly. “Where do you want me to take you?”

      “Oh, I…” I didn’t have a destination in mind. The only place I’d ever wanted to go was away, and I’d done it. I’d escaped. Now I had to make sure that I wasn’t sent back. “I don’t know.”

      “Shall I take you home?”

      “May I please have a sweet?” I asked, licking my dry lips. My stomach was threatening to growl which would be embarrassing.

      Mark frowned slightly at my evasiveness but answered. “Sure, go ahead.”

      Taking a sweet from the bag I unwrapped it slowly, the plastic rustling. I popped the multicoloured candy into my mouth, savouring the sugary taste.

      Mark tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. “Did you run away, Isobel? When was the last time you saw your parents?”

      “Six months ago,” I replied honestly, rubbing my arm.

      “Have you got any other family?”

      “No.”

      Mark glanced at me saying. “Where are you staying?”

      I shrugged continuing to suck on my sweet.

      “When was the last time you had a proper meal?”

      Pulling my hood lower over my face I stared out of the window.

      Mark wasn’t annoyed at my silence. If anything he sounded worried. “If you’re cold I can turn the heating up? Why don’t you take your hood off?”

      “I’d rather not,” I murmured, scratching at my gloved hand.

      Mark increased the temperature of the heater. “Here, put your hands on this.”

      I thanked him and held my hands over the warm air.

      “Why do you wear only one glove?” he asked.

      Withdrawing my hands I hugged them to my chest.

      “Isobel, did something happen?”

      I bit my lip. I couldn’t tell him. I shouldn’t have even been talking to him. What if he took me to a police station?

      Mark turned off the motorway and followed the road to a small town.

      “Where are we going?” I asked panicking. I should never have gotten into the car. What had I been thinking? They were going to send me to my parents. I couldn’t go back there. I couldn’t. Tears of fear filled my eyes and I dug my nails into my thighs.

      “I’m taking you to my house.”

      Raising my eyebrows in shock I gasped. “What? Why?”

      “You look like you could do with a good meal, not that I’m the best cook,” answered Mark smiling.

      “But… I could be anyone.”

      He shrugged and pulled up onto the driveway of a two storey house. “Come on,”

      I followed after Mark hesitantly, thinking that maybe this was all a trick. He opened the front door and went inside. I hovered on the doorstep. Maybe I should just run away again? I didn’t know the first thing about Mark. What if he was planning on killing me? Or raping me?

      “You’re letting all the warm air out.” Mark smiled when he noticed I hadn’t come inside.

      What if he wasn’t going to hurt me though? What if Mark really did just want to help me? His face was friendly as were his blue eyes.

      Again it was the thought of food that decided it for me. Removing my wet shoes I went inside. I considered taking my socks off too because they were soggy and rather disgusting, but then Mark would see my feet. Closing the front door I put my shoes down and walked into the kitchen. It looked new and was very modern and shiny. Boy did I feel out of place.

      Mark withdrew a frozen pizza from the freezer. “Is this okay? There isn’t much in.”

      “That’s fine, thank you.”

      The kitchen opened out to the living room and dining room so I gazed around while Mark sorted out the pizza. It was a very nice house but it was kind of messy.

       “You can remove your hood you know,” Mark said from behind me.

      Jumping at how close he was I shook my head, crossing my arms.

      “Isobel, why won’t you take it off?”

      I glanced at him fearful. “Please don’t make me.”

      Mark’s face was unreadable as he moved in front of me and lifted a hand to my hood. I flinched and felt tears welling in my eyes. Mark gently pulled my hood back.

      Brushing the hair from my face he asked. “Were you in an accident?”

      “It wasn’t an accident.”

      “The burns do they… how much of your body do they cover?” Mark’s voice was pained as if had been the one trapped inside a burning flat.

      Yanking my hood back up, I looked away. “The entire left side of my body.”     

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