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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3. Chapter Three

      Shutting the cupboard door with my hip I walked over to the counter. I was cooking dinner. Mark was sat nearby working on his laptop and Jason was out somewhere with Katie. I cried out as pain lanced through my left leg.

      “Isobel?” Mark called, glancing over at me.

      Gasping I clutched at the breakfast bar, writhing in agony.

      “Hey, are you alright?” Mark was at my side, sliding an arm around my waist.

      “I just need to sit down.”

      Mark led me over to the sofa and gently lay me down. “What’s wrong?”

      “It’s my leg,” I said through clenched teeth. “I… It’s agony.”

      Fishing his phone out of his pocket, Mark replied. “I’ll call an ambulance.”

      “No!” I panicked and grabbed his hand. “Please don’t. I can’t go to the hospital.”

      “You need help, Isobel,” he insisted. “I have a friend who is a doctor, at least let me call her.”

      I nodded and bit my bottom lip to stop myself from whimpering in pain.

 

      Mark’s friend was a woman in her late thirties called Doctor Nicole Kinsley.  She was tall and slim with long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. Mark left the living room while Nicole examined me. She was horrified at the sight of my burned leg but attempted to hide it, which I was grateful for.

      “How long ago did you receive your burns?” she asked, her fingers cool on my leathery skin.

      “Six months,” I murmured keeping my eyes on the carpet.

      Nicole touched my knee. “How far up do the burns go?”

      I didn’t reply; the less people that knew about my past the better.

      “Isobel, have you ever had this kind of pain before?” Her voice was gentle. She was trying to make me trust her.

      “Yes. It’s been happening more frequently lately,” I admitted.

      Nodding, Nicole thanked me and left the room. After a while I could hear her talking to Mark. I couldn’t make out what they were saying and grew anxious. I drew my legs up and rested my forehead on my knees. Things were getting too complicated. I should run while I could.

      “Isobel, we need to talk.”

      Glancing up I found Mark stood in front of me. My hands balled up into fists.

      “We need to visit the hospital,” said Mark sitting down beside me.

      I shook my head. “No, no hospitals.”

      Mark’s blue eyes were anxious. “Isobel, Nicole’s really worried about you.”

      “I don’t care! I am not going to a hospital!” I jumped up from the sofa and was planning on leaving through the French doors but Mark grabbed my hand.

      “Isobel you need medical attention.” Nicole walked into the room.

      Tears blurred my vision. “No, you don’t understand.”

      Mark stood up and placed his hands on my shoulders. “Then help us to understand. All we want to do is to help you.”

      “Did you go to a hospital after the accident?” Nicole asked.

      I shook my head silently.

      Her eyes widened in shock. “Then you are very lucky to be alive.”

      “Luck had nothing to do with it,” I muttered bitterly.

      “You don’t understand,” Nicole replied. “You are extremely lucky not to have died from infection seeing as your burns were never cleaned properly. Your burns are third degree and need skin grafts.”

      “What’s this about skin grafts?”

      I jumped and saw that Jason and Katie stood in the doorway. Hurrying to rearrange my hair so that it definitely covered the left side of my face, I turned the other way. I considered running up to the spare room but that would have been rude.

      “Hello Dr. Kinsley,” Jason said. “How are you?”

      “I’m well thank you, Jason.” Nicole coughed and said to Mark. “I should go.”

      “Thank you very much for coming over. I really appreciate it.”

      “Remember what I told you, Mark. It’s very important.” Nicole said goodbye to us all and I heard the door open and close.

      Moving to go upstairs I found my way blocked by Katie. Her brown eyes were curious.

      “Hello,” she said, holding out a hand. “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Katie, Jason’s girlfriend.”

      I shook her hand and kept my eyes downcast. “I’m Isobel.”

      “That’s a pretty name. Are you family?”

      Jason was in the kitchen and I heard him snort.

      “No, I’m not.”

      Fortunately Mark came to my rescue. “Isobel is a friend’s daughter. She’s staying here for a while.”

      “Well it was nice to meet you.”

      Katie disappeared upstairs with Jason.

      As they went I heard Jason say. “That’s a pretty name. Geez Kat, there’s nothing pretty about her.”

      Mark stepped in front of me. “Isobel, Nicole is a doctor and if she says that you need to go to the hospital then that is where you’re going. I’m only trying to look after you.”

      “Did she say why my leg was so painful?” I asked quietly, knowing that Mark was going to get his way no matter what.

      “Nicole said it was to do with the skin tightening, or something along those lines. So are you going to tell me why you don’t want to go to the hospital?” He was being patient which I appreciated.

      Scratching my cheek I said. “I… I can’t go back to them. I can’t.”

      “Who?”

      I couldn’t stop tears from trailing down my cheek. “My parents,” I whispered feeling frightened.

      “Your parents did this to you?” Mark demanded appalled.

      “They set the house on fire while I was in it. They made sure that I was asleep before they did it.” I sobbed.

      Drawing me into his arms, Mark murmured. “It’s okay, you’re safe now. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

      I clung to him hoping that what he said was true, that I was safe.

      After a while Mark said. “You know I told you that we would need to have a talk?” At my nod he continued. “Well, I was thinking of enrolling you into the local high school. It’s going to be difficult seeing as I’m not your legal guardian, but I thought you might like that. It would be a chance for you to start again. What do you think?”

      I stared at Mark completely blown away. “That would be amazing! Do you think I could really go back to school?”

      Smiling he replied. “Possibly but you would have to do something for me.”

      I deflated like a hot air balloon. “What would that be?”

      “Go to the hospital.”

      I chewed my lip. The idea of being in a hospital filled me with dread but Mark was offering me a new life. Why was he being so kind to me? I definitely didn’t deserve it. I just hoped that he wouldn’t want to get rid of me in the future, but maybe he wouldn’t grow to hate me like my parents had.

      “Deal,” I said managing a small smile.

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