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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2. Chapter Two

      I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. I was having a bath, an actual bath. Closing my eyes I breathed deeply, inhaling the smell of the lavender bubble bath. Mark was busy cooking dinner downstairs. He had given me some of his son’s clothes to wear.

      “Five minutes!” Mark called.

      With much reluctance I left the bath and dried myself, careful not to catch my reflection in the mirror. It was weird wearing boxers. Mark had given me a t-shirt, jeans and a hoodie as well. They were slightly baggy but I didn’t care. I hadn’t worn clean clothes in months. After slipping some thick socks on, I rearranged my hair so that it covered the burns on my face and went downstairs.

      “How was the bath?” Mark asked as he dished out the pizza.

      With a smile I replied. “It was great thanks. I feel so much better.”

      Gesturing for me to sit on the sofa, he said. “You look a lot better. I can actually see your skin now.”

      Flushing I sat down on the cushioned sofa and gazed at my feet and covered my burned hand.

      “Here you go.” Mark handed me a plate filled with half the pizza. “What can I get you to drink, Isobel?”

      “Do you have lemonade?” I asked wondering if I should have given him a fake name. I still didn’t know if I could trust Mark. I hoped that I could.

      Moments later he joined me on the sofa and handed me my drink.

      “Thank you.” I sipped at the lemonade eagerly, enjoying the refreshing taste.

     Mark switched on the huge TV and we started eating. The pizza was delicious and when I had finished it I licked my fingers greedily. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten such a big meal.

      The door suddenly burst open making me jump and Mark moved his gaze from the TV screen to see who the newcomer was.

      “Jason,” he said surprised. “I didn’t expect to see you home so early. Is Katie with you?”

      So the tall, handsome young man in the doorway was Mark’s son. He had wide shoulders, and dark hair like Mark, but unlike his father Jason had brown eyes, eyes that glared at me. Embarrassed and uncomfortable I turned away and stared at my hands. My hair fell across my face.

      “Who is that? And why is she wearing my clothes?” Jason demanded slamming the front door.

      I flinched at his harsh tone.

      Mark stood up. “Jason, come with me.”

      He left the room and I felt Jason’s eyes on me as he followed his dad. Anxious, I pulled the hood up so that it covered my head. Lifting my legs up, I wrapped my arms around them. What was Mark saying to Jason? A few minutes later I heard Jason stomp upstairs.

      Sighing Mark sat down beside me. “I’m sorry about that.”

      “Do you want me to leave?” My words were so quiet that I wasn’t sure Mark had heard.

      He sounded shocked. “No, I don’t. Please ignore my son. I’m sorry he was so rude.”

      Relieved that I didn’t have to go, I found my eyes drawn to the stairs. I couldn’t help but feel upset that Jason had taken such an immediate dislike to me.

 

      Even though I had never slept in such a comfortable bed, I still woke early. Not recognising my surroundings I panicked and scrambled from the soft sheets. My heart was pounding in my chest as I examined the room. It was big and furnished with the bed, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers and some paintings.

      Glancing down at myself I found that I was dressed in a man’s t-shirt and shorts. That was when it came back to me. There had been a storm and a man had offered me a lift. Mark. He had brought me back here. My eyebrows rose in surprise. Mark hadn’t called the police. I’d been sure that he would as soon as I fell asleep.

      Moving over to the window I peeled back the curtain to find that the sun was still rising. Maybe my luck had finally turned around?

 

      Mark was surprised to see me when I went downstairs a few minutes later. He was dressed in a suit and eating cereal while watching the news.

      “I didn’t expect to see you up so early.” He smiled.

      I had gotten dressed and the hood was pulled up, covering my face. Sitting down beside him I asked. “What day is it?” I knew that it was January but I had no idea what the date was.

      “It’s Thursday the twenty fourth,” answered Mark with a sad smile. “Are you hungry? There’s cereal, toast or yoghurts.”

      I pulled my sleeves down so that they covered my burned hand and replied. “Could I please have some cereal?”

      “Of course you can. It’s in that cupboard there. Help yourself to a drink as well.”

       After pouring myself a glass of orange juice and putting some cereal in a bowl I joined Mark on the sofa. “What’s your job?” I asked in between mouthfuls of food.

      “I work in an office.” He sighed. “It’s dull but it pays the bills.”

      Mark took my bowl when I had finished and put it in the dishwasher with his. “I have to go to work now. I should be back by six. Here’s a key in case you fancy going for a walk. Jason has school from nine to half three. He usually goes to his girlfriend’s afterwards. Help yourself to anything in the cupboards. I’ll see you later.”

      In the blink of an eye Mark was gone. I gazed after him in shock. He was just going to leave me in the house all day by myself? Wasn’t he worried that when he returned I would have disappeared along with half of his house? I went back upstairs to the room I had slept in, not wanting to cross paths with Jason.

 

      Mark returned before Jason that evening which wasn’t surprising. His mouth actually dropped open when he saw me, but that was probably because of all the cakes that were covering the breakfast bar in front of me.

      “I didn’t know what kinds you liked.” I shrugged by way of explanation.

      Putting his briefcase on the table, Mark removed his tie saying. “They look delicious. You didn’t have to go to all that trouble. It’s very kind of you.”

      “Well I used all your flour, sugar and margarine,” I replied embarrassed.

      He laughed. “Not to worry.”

      I hadn’t just spent my day baking, I had cleaned and done the washing as well. It had been good to have something to do. Baking had always been a passion of mine so it had been wonderful to have a chance to do that again. My eyes went to the door, as they had all day. I kept expecting police to burst into the house to take me to the police station and then back to them, my parents.

      “Are you alright?” asked Mark concerned.

      Glancing down I saw that my knuckles were white. I unclenched my hands. “There’s a pasta bake in the oven. Do you like pasta?” I smiled but it didn’t reach my eyes.

      “Isobel.” He reached out and touched my arm making me flinch. Mark’s blue eyes were sad. “What’s the matter?”

      I shook my head, tears stinging my eyes.

      Mark approached me like I was a wild animal. “Hey, it’s okay. You can tell me.” He slowly drew me into his arms and hugged me.

      The fear I felt was replaced with confusion and I started sobbing.

      “Hush.” Mark gently rubbed my back.

      Pressing my face against his chest I bawled my eyes out. No one had ever hugged me before...No one. “I… I’m sorry,”

      “You’ve got nothing to apologise for,” he told me.

      I wiped my nose on my sleeve. “Why haven’t you called the police? Why are you being so kind to me?”

      Mark lifted my chin so that I was looking into his eyes. “Isobel, I’m not going to call the police, not unless you want me to. I think that they would only make things worse. We need to have a sit down and talk though.”

      I nodded and brushed my tears away.

      “Is the pasta bake ready? I’m starving.”

      While Mark went upstairs to change, I dished out the dinner surprised but relieved that we weren’t waiting for Jason. We ate on the sofa again and had just finished when Jason got back. An attractive girl was with him. Her black hair was shiny and fell half way down her back. She was dressed in a short skirt and a tight top.

      “Good evening, Mr. Thorne.” She smiled revealing perfect white teeth.

      “Hi Katie, how are you? Have you two eaten? Isobel here made enough food to feed an army.”

      Jason led his girlfriend to the stairs. “We already ate, Dad.”

      I avoided Katie’s inquisitive eyes and concentrated on the TV, not at all surprised that Jason’s girlfriend was as good looking as he was. It was no wonder he hated me so much. He liked to surround himself with beautiful things and I was the female version of Quasimodo. Jason and Katie disappeared upstairs and Mark gave me an apologetic smile.

      “Shall we have some dessert?”

      I gave him a weak smile and followed him to the breakfast bar. Whatever it was that Mark wanted to talk to me about he didn’t bring it up that evening.

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