The bus journey to Melissa’s hotel took forty minutes and was bumpy and uncomfortable. Add to that the walk to the bus stop, the wait for the bus and the walk at the other end and it took me well over an hour to get there. A taxi would have been much quicker and far more relaxing but I’d given all my bank cards and cash to her. My finances were strictly limited now. After the series of unpleasant and demeaning situations I’d faced settling into my hotel the journey and that sense of monetary restriction was the final straw to my thinking.
Playing at being Melissa at home in Nockton was one thing. This was something else entirely. I valued the total change from my former life but it was too much and the restrictions felt too complete. The removal of my wealth was like I was handcuffed and chained by the ankles.
As I approached Melissa’s hotel on foot my feet were getting sore. I’d been on them most of the day but I had a feeling they were already a little fatter and the shoes were rubbing. I stopped and winced, trying to take the weight off one foot and then the other and I became aware of my glasses. I wondered if I should take them off but I was in two minds about my intentions now. The greater part of me wanted to continue the transformation toward looking more like Melissa but I also felt it was important I re-establish my position in our relationship.
It had been nice when she pretended to take control... very nice... but there was also an uncomfortable element to that. I’d never truly relinquished control in my life. What we’d constructed here together; and then what Melissa had arranged without my consent... It was all a little bit too much like I had no control in my life at all anymore. I knew that was the fantasy I'd had: to be a normal person ruled by the practical necessities of life; but it was too much too quickly.
I took off the glasses. When Melissa saw that she’d recognise it as symbolic of my determination.
Except... taking them off made my vision swim. These were a couple of notches up now from zero prescription and I’d been wearing them all day. Removing them brought on a slight but instant sense of dizziness and headache. I frowned, blinking to clear my vision. Was it possible my brain was already getting used to glasses to the extent that I would have to go on wearing them?
Surely not. If I went to bed it would reset my vision I was sure – but I was inclined to keep them on now.
Shrugging, I did so. What did it matter?
Though I was conscious of how much plainer I looked in them; how much closer I looked to Melissa.
The hotel had a long drive that was lined with palm trees. I walked along it feeling dwarfed. The Satine Palace was absolutely gigantic compared to the squalid little hotel I had been forced to stay in. Stretching off from the grand entrance it had two great wings that clearly faced the sea beyond. The air here was cooler than it was at my hotel; less stifling. This was clearly a superior residence in every way. Now that I was bringing this failed start to a close it was going to be nice to move in here; to get some quality lounging time in. And I looked forward to continuing my weight gain. It would be even easier with no pressure to work. I could just eat and lay out in the sun day after day after day. It would be great.
I walked into reception and went to the desk. I introduced myself (after a moment’s thought) as Melissa Chapman and asked where Dahlia Western’s room was. It occurred to me then that even if I moved in here I would have to continue using that name now. There couldn’t be two Dahlia’s. The idea of that was... intriguing. It was the work and lack of power that was getting to me. I still wanted to explore our swap.
The receptionist wasn’t polite to me. She was aloof and snooty. She didn’t even respond to my request; just went to a phone and made a call. It was a bit annoying actually. I was getting tired of people not treating me with respect. I was still a human being even if I my clothes and slightly dishevelled appearance suggested I wasn’t in the league of the clientele here.
I heard her use my new name and presumed she was talking to Melissa. After she put the phone down she ignored me and went back to the papers she’d been going through when I approached. Feeling irritable and impatient I said, “Excuse me. Should I go up?”
“Wait,” she said sullenly.
“Oh. Right. For how long?”
She ignored me. I waited. She still didn’t respond.
I huffed to myself and stepped away from the desk, loitering.
Five minutes later I had heard nothing. I went back to the desk. “Excuse me. Sorry. Did, uh, Miss Western say how long she would be?”
“You need to wait,” replied the receptionist without looking up.
I frowned and shook my head at the deplorable service and took a seat nearby.
It was starting to piss me off that Melissa was keeping me waiting. She was my employee. She should have told them to send me straight up. I shouldn’t have to wait.
But wait I did. Ten more minutes went by before I went back up to the desk. “Excuse me,” I said.
The receptionist scowled at me.
“Please can you just tell me what room Miss Western is in? I’ll go up and knock.”
She glanced down at my clothes and gave a little sneer.
“Could you at least ring her room again?”
She snapped something in Greek and then went back to the phone.
This time there was no answer. She put it down and said, “She isn’t there.”
“But you told her I was here to see her, right? Could she be on her way down?”
The receptionist ignored me.
“Oh for God’s sake,” I muttered. I walked away from the desk and then turned back to go and give her a piece of my mind, but something caught my eye through a wide window that looked into the expansive dining room to the pool area beyond.
I saw Melissa walking along out there. I was flabbergasted. She had been told I was here and she hadn’t even bothered to come. She was going out to the poolside.
“I’ve had enough of this,” I said and started toward the door leading to the back.
The receptionist called after me but I ignored her. This run-around had to stop. It was great that Melissa was playing along with this part she’d created but it had gone way too far. It was high time we had words. I wasn’t comfortable with the way she was treating me and it was time for her to stop.