My arms and legs felt strong and sure as I front crawled my way up the outdoor hotel swimming pool and back down again. Swimming had to be the best exercise possible and since coming to Greece I had really built up my stamina. It was unbelievable to think how far I had come. Initially I had struggled to doggy-paddle a single width. Now I could do lengths for an hour at a time without too much of a struggle.
Boredom was my biggest obstacle with it but I’d purchased a water-resistant music centre so that wasn’t a problem. And I’d loaded it with the recordings I had made of Dahlia’s reminiscences about her life. I listened to them over and over again, absorbing the information about her life and career; about the different people she knew and the way she interacted with them.
I did at least three hour long swims a day now and I was thinking of building that up to longer endurance swims of two or three hours. Plus the jogging. Plus the rowing machine and the cross trainer. Plus the squats and the sit-ups.
I was maniacal and obsessive and I was loving it.
I diverted to the pool’s exit ladder and climbed it quickly, the water cascading off me in the bright sunshine. I felt great and I was just starting to look great too. I still had a good way to go but the training was working wonders. It was amazing what unlimited time and unlimited money could achieve if coupled with desperate yearning.
I heard clapping and smiled when I saw my personal trainer, Ambrus, leaning against a table, watching me emerge. “If I had not seen you every day then I would not believe my eyes Miss Western,” he said. “Your progress has been spectacular.”
I beamed proudly and unreservedly, looking down at myself. I couldn’t believe it either. I still wasn’t slim as such; not yet; but the steps I had taken had carried me so far. The laser liposuction treatments had removed bulk from all the difficult areas and the five star beauty treatments I’d supported it with were ensuring I downgraded my weight gracefully and without unsightly side effects. Coupled with obsessional exercise and regimented diet, I was further along with my diabolical master plan than I could ever have expected.
“How do you feel?” asked Ambrus. “You look great!”
“Fabulous,” I replied. “Really fabulous. Just look at me.”
“I am looking. It is remarkable. I have never had such a great success before. I should take your picture and put it on my flyers.”
I took up my towel and dried my hair. My hair was fuller now and looked lovely in the bright Mediterranean sunshine. I patted my arms and my legs, loving the thinner me.
“Most women would be happy with what you have achieved so far,” said Ambrus.
“Not me,” I replied with a grin. “I’m going all the way. Now that I’ve gone this far I can see that there isn’t really any kind of barrier. I can be as slim as I want.” I shook my head ruefully. “All these years, how fat I’ve been… I never realised that it was even possible to change. I thought I was trapped in that ridiculous fat suit; like I’d never get out of it.”
He nodded and I became quiet; reflective.
“Thank you,” I said. “Really. I couldn’t have done this without you. And there’s still a long way to go. I’m hoping you’ll stay with me to the end.”
“I couldn’t let my best client down, could I?”
I said goodbye to him and picked up my bag, heading toward the bar. He’d be back later but to be honest I didn’t need him anywhere near as much now. The training was habitual now. It was like these awful boot camp things except over a far more enduring period and it was visibly getting me the results that I wanted now. I was getting slimmer by the day, going down size after size. And it wasn’t just the actual loss of weight. My greater fitness was improving my posture and muscle tone so that what fat I did still have was held in more convincingly.
The pool bar was a circular stand with a straw roof. Half a dozen hotel guests sat on tall stools around it while the Greek barmaid hurried lackadaisically round to take their orders. I took a seat and ordered some fresh fruit juice. I hadn’t drunk alcohol in three weeks and that was unheard of. But I felt better for it; a lot better.
I got the drink and slugged it down swiftly, enjoying the flush of taste and refreshment. It wasn’t until I set down the empty glass that I noticed the dishy man sitting across from me who was watching me with a gentle smile on his face.
He was in his mid-thirties with tanned skin, curly blond hair and dimples and it took me a minute to register his attention and what it meant because this was the first time – in my life – that this had happened to me: that a handsome man had flirted with me using his eyes; had looked at me with lust and admiration roiling inside of him.
I had to check myself; look down at my toned legs and slimmer stomach; my cleavage; to believe he wasn’t checking out somebody else.
I was like a schoolgirl on the inside but I knew I couldn’t show it. I just gave him a little nod and raised the corners of my mouth then ordered another drink. He picked his glass up and sauntered round to my side of the circular bar.
There was an empty seat beside me.
He took it.
Still I didn’t look at him.
Then finally I turned and let him enjoy the sight of my generous cleavage before I let him know that I was willing to talk.