Natalia contemplated telling the carefully fabricated story she had rehearsed an exhausting amount of times with Gabriel, or the complete truth. “I was in a...very complicated relationship, two years ago. His name was Shawn. He was beautiful...long, sandy hair, these real soulful eyes. Not too intelligent, but he loved me. I always said I was smart enough for both of us,” she said, smiling slightly, her deep brown eyes distant. “But he did love me. Or...I thought he did. He discovered, one day, what my face really looked like. He was...revolted. He couldn’t stand looking at me. He kicked me out, leaving me quite friendless. I’m not good at the whole friend thing,” she said quietly, clutching at her arm. “He told me, “You’re not worth loving.”” Chase whistled. “Yeah, he was real friendly. Well, I was out on the street. I was alone, very truly. That’s where I met Gabriel. I...I joined Team Skye because Gabriel was the only one who would have me,” she whispered. She moved her left knight three spaces. Well, mostly truth is a stepping stone, she thought.
“What’s wrong with your face?” Chase asked after a spell. Natalia looked at him, a searching look that made him feel quite naked. There was an intelligent, piercing quality to her gaze that was difficult to avoid. The girl reached up slowly, wiping the left side of her face slowly, revealing the angry red burns concealed underneath the mask. She waited for the revulsion, the hatred.
“Gabriel did this to me,” she said quietly.
Chase blinked. “And?”
“Well, Shawn was right, wasn’t he? I look like a freak.”
Chase moved a pawn forward. “You look fine to me,” he said simply.
Natalia stared at him. “Look at me!”
He obeyed, taking in her long, straight ruby hair, the way her angular face melted on the left side, the olive skin and arched eyebrows drooping like wax. The burns glowed faintly.
“I am looking at you,” he said. “And it’s your move.”