Skin Deep

                                                                                                                             By Thomas Mc

                                                                                                                     Chapter 7: Confessions

It had been about four hours since they had arrived back at the bed and breakfast. Matt, Katy, Sally and Chastity sat in the private living area of the manor staring in fascination at Michelle and the incredible being that was the newest guest. They had learned that David lived in New York and that there were others like him that made up the basis of the urban legend of the Creature of Central Park. Sally had related to them the full story of what had happened to her in the RV camp shower.

They were interrupted by the sound of vehicles pulling up to the front of the house. Matt stood up and peered though the closed curtains. He saw three vans come to a stop in front of the house just as David announced, "My family is here."

Matt stepped out the front door to meet a very pretty redheaded woman approaching from one of the vans. He was immediately struck by the similarity in color between the woman's hair and David's fur. The woman took in Matt's sheriff's uniform and badge and stopped short looking very surprised and worried.

Matt gave her a little smile as he spoke. "I assume you are here to meet up with David and Michelle."

Cherry's jaw fell in surprise at the sheriff's matter-of-fact greeting then she recovered. "Ahhh . . . yea. How is he?"

"He's doing OK considering." The sheriff shrugged. "He was very hungry and had a load of buckshot in his calf when we found him but his wounds have been treated and he has consumed two complete lunch specials." He glanced at the three vans. "It's getting late and I'm sure you are all tired from your trip. You are all welcome to spend the night at our establishment."

After a couple of seconds the center van opened up. Another creature like David stepped out of the van and walked up to the strawberry blond woman. The creature placed his arm around the woman and she smiled up at him. At the same time two more women approached the sheriff from inside the building. One put her arms around the sheriff and the other stood on his other side. Then a third woman dressed in a uniform like the sheriff came out and joined them.

Then the creature spoke. "Thank-you for your kind offer. My name is Peter and this is my wife, Cherry. David is our son."

Matt, Katy and Sally all gasped in surprise. David had told them that his family name was Chandler-Wells. "Matt was the first to respond. "Are you by any chance the Peter Chandler-Wells that writes all of those children's books?"

Cherry responded with a strong hint of pride. "That's my husband all right."

Matt continued. "My name is Mathew Dillon." He indicated the three women beside him. "This is my wife Katy and her sister Sally. That is my deputy Chastity Fredricks. Katy and Sally are both very big fans of yours. Katy has a complete collection of all of your books."

The other two vans opened and four more people stepped out to join the group including one that was dressed in a New York Police lieutenant's uniform. Peter introduced them. "This is my sister Clarissa and her husband Phillip Winston." He indicated the woman and the policeman that were holding hands. Matt recognized both names from his two years on the New York police force. Peter pointed to the other woman whose hair was the same strawberry blond as David and Cherry. "This other young lady is our daughter, Catherine." Then he indicated the forth person, a distinguished older man. "This gentleman is Doctor Harold Peterson, a close friend of the family."

Matt glanced around then spoke. "It's a pleasure to meet all of you." His gaze centered on Peter. "I think we should get inside before somebody else comes by and sees you." He indicated the front door of the building and escorted the unusual collection of guests into the closed bed and breakfast.

Once they were all inside the house Doctor Peterson insisted on checking over David's injuries. Of the eight pieces of buckshot that had hit David, Matt and Chastity had managed to remove all but two of them before bandaging his leg. Harold removed the remaining two pieces then re-bandaged David's leg. Sparrow had been hovering over him in concern during the entire operation. After he finished Harold complemented Matt and Chastity on their first aid skills.

Peter, meanwhile, used Cherry's cell phone. "Hello Mother. I just wanted to let you know that we have found David and Sparrow and we have a safe place to stay for the night. I'll tell you all about it when we get back." Then he closed it.

~ o ~

Since it was close to dinner time, Katy told Jack over at the restaurant to make up enough food for twelve and brought it back to the dining room in the house. Katy and Sally were having difficulty getting past the fact that they were in the presence of the author whose books they had both loved as children and still collected. He told them a little bit about how as a young teenager he had started telling stories to amuse the other younger children. Then at his mother's insistence he started writing those stories down. It was his grandmother's best friend, Jenny Aronson, that got his first book published. It turned out that Katy had a first edition copy of that same book. Sparrow was amazed and amused that their hosts were more affected by Peter the author than by Peter the Creature. She chuckled at the dichotomy.

Matt glanced over at her. "What is it that amused you?"

She shrugged. "I just thought it was funny that David and Peter's very unusual appearance seems to have been rendered completely irrelevant by the knowledge that it was Peter that wrote all those children's stories."

Katy responded. "That is true. After all he is Peter Chandler-Wells, author of the best Children's books since Doctor Seuss. My sister and I learned to read from those books. What he looks like is only secondary." She paused and grinned. "To us he was an almost mythical figure. To discover that his appearance is just as mythical seems almost appropriate."

Sally jumped in. "It's like David said about what was inside being more important than the outer appearance." She turned her gaze on Sparrow. "I notice that you are the one that David spent three days walking across country at great personal risk in order to be with." She cocked her head. "And it's you whose shoulder his arm is currently draped across."

Sparrow blushed as David tightened his arm around her in a gentle hug helping to emphasize the truth of Sally's words."

~ o ~

After dinner Katy gave them a quick tour of the Bed and Breakfast. When Peter saw the collection of his books in the library, he autographed each of the books then, much to their delight, he read a couple of Katy and Sally's favorite short stories out loud to them. Matt mentioned that both of his and Katy's children also loved Peter's stories.

During all this time David stayed right by Sparrow's side. Most of that time he was holding her hand or he had his arm around her waist. Now that he had found her he was reluctant to lose contact with her. Sparrow was thoroughly enjoying the close contact.

As it got late, Chastity wished everyone a good night and left for home. Katy showed her unique guests to their rooms.

~ o ~

Sparrow had changed for bed when there was a knock at her door. "Uh, yes?" She responded uncertainly.

Katy's voice called from outside. "Michelle, honey, it's Katy and Sally. May we come in?"

Sparrow glanced at her wig over on the dresser. "One moment." She called out as she rushed over and quickly put on the wig without really looking in the mirror. Then she opened the door to let the two women in.

Sally glanced at her and a look of surprise and pity crossed her face. Katy remarked with gentle sympathy in her voice. "Michelle honey, your wig isn't on straight."

Sparrow ran over and looked in the mirror. In her haste to put it on she had caught some of the hair on the left side under the scull cap which held the rest of that side back almost to her left ear. The scarred left side of her face and plainly blind left eye clearly on display. Her hand came up to her left cheek as she gasped in dismay, then she caught sight of her exposed badly scarred left hand and forearm. It seemed like every time she started to feel good about herself, something like this happened to bring harsh reality crashing down on her. She collapsed onto her bed and sat there with her head in her hands trying very hard not to break into tears.

Sally sat down on one side of Sparrow and put her arm around her while Katy sat on her other side and gently adjusted Sparrows wig. "There we are. That's much better." Katy commented as she patted the hair into place.

"It makes no difference." Sparrow responded, shaking her head. "No matter how much I paint over and cover up, at the end of the day, I'm still left with this." He held up her burn scarred arm. She sighed deeply as she slowly rotated her hand as though studying some odd phenomenon. Both women felt the urge to look away from the expression of detached hopelessness reflected in her face.

Sally took hold of her chin and forced Sparrow to look at her. "Honey you're completely missing the point of what has happened here. You're letting your self-pity blind you to everything you already have. These physical scars are not really important to those that care about you. Didn't you hear what David told you back at the jailhouse?" Her gaze bored into Sparrow as she gave her chin a nearly imperceptible shake emphasizing her point. "Wake up and look at what you have. The most fantastic, and just plain damn sexy, person I have ever met has fallen in love with you. I mean he walked a couple of hundred miles in three days and through great personal danger just to get to you." She released Sparrows chin and gently pushed back the hair to touch her scarred left cheek. "You must learn to just accept yourself as you are and let go of this emotional baggage that clouds your thinking."

Katy jumped in. "Sally is right. If I didn't already have Matt, I would be doing everything in my power to reel that big furry lug in. I don't think there is a woman alive that could resist that voice of his." She shook her head and smiled. "You yourself said that he had many pretty young women to choose from but you are the one he wants." She took a firm grip of Sparrows scarred hand as her expression became more serious. "You have a chance at something that any woman would die for; a great love with someone that knows you better than you know yourself."

Sparrow looked at the scarred hand that Katy was able to hold without showing any sign of distress. She thought about David's behavior. He also had shown none of the reactions that she had expected when he had touched her. He had actually gone out of his way to stay in physical contact with her. It didn't seem to matter to him whether where he was touching was scarred or not. They were right. She needed to let go of her fears. She needed to accept, and believe in, all the things that she did have. In the last few weeks, several very nice people had become her friends and, apparently, David had chosen her over many other beautiful young women. Just thinking of David made her heart flutter and the idea that he wanted her made her feel warm all over.

With a soft sigh Sparrow looked at Sally and Katy giving them a half-hearted smile. "I know that you're both right and the idea that David really likes me seems like a dream come true . . ." She paused a moment. "But I still have a hard time believing. It's very hard to shake the feelings that have been with me as long as I can remember . . ." She hung her head and her voice became very soft. ". . . Short as that memory is."

Both women caught that last phrase despite how softly it had been said. "How far back can you remember?" Asked Sally, remembering a half heard comment from earlier about Michelle's memory.

Sparrow shrugged as she replied. "Four weeks." Which drew a gasp from Sally.

"You have no memories at all before that?" Sally asked. She had suspected that Michelle was being haunted by her past. Now it appeared that she couldn't even remember the past that was haunting her.

"Not a thing." Sparrow shook her head. "I didn't even know my name until a week ago when Clarissa finally managed to find out who I was." She shrugged. "I'm still unable to feel any familiarity with my name. It's just a meaningless random name that someone said I could use if I wanted to."

"Oh, you poor dear." Sally expressed her sympathy as the extent of Michelle's situation really began to sink in.

Katy cocked her head. "I noticed that David and his family all call you Sparrow."

Sparrow nodded then held out her arm to display the unscarred area on the inside of her left arm, showing the sparrow tattoo. "I have this tattoo and, for some reason, the phrase 'my little Sparrow' holds some positive significance to me so that was the name I took after I met David." She seemed to be studying the small tattoo as she continued speaking. "Even now the name Sparrow just feels right to me." Her voice got a little quieter. "Though I have no idea where or when I got this or why that name seems to have meaning for me." Her voice trailed away as she continued to study the enigmatic tattoo that carried some un-guessable significance to her past.

"Would you prefer it if we used that name from now on?" Katy asked.

Sparrow looked up at Katy as her mind seemed to return from far away. "I really do prefer the name Sparrow." She replied with a shrug and a shy smile.

"Then Sparrow it is." Sally responded as she gave her a friendly smile. "That name does seem to suit you, somehow."

They were interrupted by a knock at the bedroom door and David's unique sexy voice drew their full attention. "Sparrow, are you doing OK in there?"

Sparrow glanced at the two women beside her then responded. "I'm OK." She frowned. "Were you feeling my emotions just now?"

After a moment's hesitation, David responded. "Yes." There was a second's pause. "Sparrow, may I come in?"

She glanced at Katy and Sally. Both women were nodding. "Say yes." Katy whispered.

"Ah, sure, come in David." Sparrow replied timidly.

As the door opened Katy scooted over leaving an obvious opening as invitation for David who quickly sized up the situation and took the open space beside Sparrow. He took her hand. "I came to see if I could be of help." He glanced to either side of them and continued. "But I can see you already have two strong advocates here to help you."

"That may be so but I think right now you are more what she needs." Sally remarked to David as she stood up.

Sparrow blushed at Sally's comment and David smiled as he responded. "That is fine with me." He patted her hand. "I'm always here when you need me. I've fallen in love with you and I know how you feel about me . . . our souls have become tied together."

Sparrow's eye shimmered as she gazed back into his unique face. Twice now he had told her straight-up, with no prevarication or qualifiers, that he loved her. She felt like her frozen battered heart was turning into a warm puddle right there.

Katy's eyes opened wide as she looked at David in surprise. Sally's eyes also opened wide as her hand came up to her mouth. They had both remembered what had been said about the leonine male's bond earlier. A couple of moments later Sparrow also reacted as the significance of what he had said got through to her. "You . . . you mean . . . the bond?"

David smiled as he touched the right side of her face. "Of course I mean the bond." He brought his other hand up sliding it beneath her hair to touch the scarred side of her face. "How do you think I found my way here? I felt it when that trucker tried to attack you and followed my sense of you here." He gazed deeply into her eye. "You are part of me now. Whatever affects you also affects me."

"But . . . what if it is only the bond that ties us together?" She asked uncertainly.

The intensity of his gaze softened then he leaned in and kissed her as Sally and Katy both turned bright red and glanced away. At first Sparrow was too startled to react. Then her eyes closed and her arms came up around David as she slowly relaxed into the kiss. David's eyes closed as his arms enfolded her and pulled her against him. Her mind began reeling and she was seeing bright colorful sparks behind her closed eyes as she felt electricity shoot through her whole body. Katy and Sally were both becoming embarrassed, unsure what they should do.

They slowly broke from the kiss. Her eyes remained closed as she savored the warm tingly feeling that went all the way to her toes. After a moment David spoke. "Does that answer your question?"

"Uummm . . ." Was all the response he got from her.

Katy jumped up and moved over by Sally. "Uh, um, I ah, I think it's time for me to get to bed." And Sally added. "Yea, I'm a bit tired." They both beat a hasty retreat from the room and closed the door behind them.

Out in the hallway they stared at each other. "Wow!" Sally exclaimed softly.

Katy shook her head. "Um, yea. That was some kiss."

Sally nodded. "No kidding, even I felt the heat of that kiss." Then she shrugged. "Ah, do you remember why we went in to see her in the first place?"

Katy shook her head. "Not a clue." Then with a soft chuckle she hooked her arm through Sally's and led her away. "I suspect that she has what she needs now."

~ o ~

David leaned in and again they kissed. When they again broke they gazed into each other's eyes. With a deep sigh Sparrow closed her eyes for a moment. "I think I'm beginning to believe." She smiled shyly. "Maybe you should remind me again." David again expressed his feelings and she returned the favor. There was real passion in that kiss from both of them.

David and Sparrow finally broke from that very passionate kiss both stunned by the intensity of it. Then after several seconds they both became aware that they were alone and in her bed. They both turned bright red. David's strawberry blond fur only emphasized how deeply he was blushing.

David stood up and taking her hands pulled her up into his arms. "I really should go back to my room now before I forget myself." He kissed her again very quickly and gently. "I'll only be a thought away." As they separated she held on to his hand causing him to pause momentarily before reluctantly releasing him.

That night, for the first time in the last four weeks, Sparrow fell asleep with unclenched fists and a smile on her face.

~ o ~

Sparrow woke up feeling uncharacteristically happy. She glanced around at the small room as memories of last night came flooding back and she shook her head in amazement. She stretched and then hugged herself as she relived the kisses that she and David had shared.

She glanced at the small alarm clock beside the bed. [ 9:12 am] She had slept very late. She jumped out of bed, threw on her robe, and hastily donned her wig. This time she double checked in the mirror to be sure she got it on straight, and then left her room.

When she got to the bottom of the stairs she saw everyone standing in front of the main room's large bay window. David turned and smiled at her. "Sparrow, you must come see this."

As she approached the group she thought at first that the windows had fogged up. Then David drew her past him so that she had a clear view and she gasped in amazement at what she saw.

Everything outside was covered in a blanket of white. Directly in front were four large snow covered mounds. The lower quarter of the bay window and apparently the whole covered front porch was buried by the drifted snow. She could also clearly see that large flakes of snow were still falling out there.

Peter was the next to speak. "It seems that the winter storm that was supposed to arrive in two days, came through a bit earlier than expected and we had eight inches of snow last night." He nodded toward Matt. "And our sheriff friend heard over the radio that there is an additional six to eight inches expected throughout the day."

Matt jumped in at this point. "I talked to Chaz back in town about an hour ago and she said that this whole area is completely snowed in for the next three to five days depending on how long the warm front to the south takes to reach us." Matt shrugged. "It looks like you people will be celebrating New Years right here with us."