Which I won't have.
Jeff, Drew and I had a good last day as Brianna, Daphne, and Liz. It was a fairly sunny day, so we hit the beach. It wasn't quite nice enough to just wear the bikinis, but that seemed more a matter of etiquette than anything - the gauzy matching skirts we were wearing with our blue (me), green (Drew), and red (Jeff) swimwear didn't do a whole lot more than keep the breeze off our butts, but that's something. Drew's also covered Daphne's scar.
Jeff wasn't too sure of it at first; he came out of the Inn wearing a t-shirt. Drew wasn't having much of that - if we were letting it hang out, so was Jeff. He reluctantly removed it and tucked it underneath the strap of his bikini bottom. "I feel so exposed."
Drew smirked. "I bet you've been to the beach without a top before. Trust me on this - ever square inch that swimsuit doesn't cover sends a stronger message that you're not afraid and have nothing to worry about. Guys will want you, but they don't want to blow their chances by ticking you off."
"And where'd you gain that wisdom?" I was a bit skeptical, myself.
"On an office assistant's salary?"
"Hey, Daphne had some vacation time I couldn't roll over - we're going to talk about that policy when I'm myself again - and I wasn't anxious to spend the holidays with her family. Fortunately, the 'new Drew' felt the same way, so we booked a vacation at a big, non-cursed resort."
"I enjoyed it. Now, let's see what's going on."
The answer: Not a whole lot. It was Wednesday, after all, before Memorial Day, but we did find a couple college guys setting up a volleyball net. They waved, Drew waved back, and we started talking. They were both juniors at the University of Maine, up in Orono (which I gather is somewhere near Bangor). They asked if we wanted to play, and we were up for it.
Sure, we said, but the teams were uneven. Drew said to just hold on a second, and started jogging back to the Inn. I could practically hear the guys thinking that they hate it when girls leave but enjoying the view as they walk away. I asked if they were thinking that, and one of them confessed. "Why, are you guys...?"
"Nah," Jeff said, "we just know how guys think."
In a few minutes, Drew came back with Darren. They'd gotten along pretty well the other night, and he seemed happy to let Drew lead him by the hand. Then we just had to choose up sides; it was clear Darren wanted to be with "Daphne", so I played with the guys; Jeff didn't look like he'd be comfortable. And, hey, if I were them, that's the way I'd want it; Drew and Jeff have more to jiggle than I do.
We weren't keeping score, but I think my team probably won most of the time.
We went back to the pier and got some ice cream after that, then spent the rest of the afternoon doing our individual things before meeting up for dinner: I was reading, finishing up a book I didn't figure to take back to California with me. Then, as I said, we saw Jadyn and Trip drive back in with a full truck and retire to his room.
I decided to stay up this time, in part just to gather information, and in part because I was worried about clothes digging into me as I was sleeping. Like Jeff said last year, we did start to feel a little something at around ten o'clock, not really like an itch or a rash, more like electricity in the air. Jeremy (or whoever was calling on his behalf) had been telling the truth about one thing; it was just a bit short of half past two when things really started to happen.
One of the things I'd always wondered about with this place is how it seems to disobey the laws of thermodynamics: After all, matter can neither be created nor destroyed. This place flouts that law, and it's the strangest thing I've ever felt. When you eat, you feel the new weight collecting in your stomach, but this was like a thousand tiny IVs were attached to my body, some penetrating deep, pumping more material into my body that was instantly assimilated, like it was naturally part of me.
You can imagine how excited I was - I was getting bigger! I felt my panties getting tighter, so I quickly threw off my nightshirt and pulled down my underwear. That was a little dizzying, as it was like the floor was pulling away. I could see the muscles in my legs expanding, along with those in my abdomen, and what part of my arms I could see.
And along with my breasts.
At first I thought I was just getting well-defined pecs, or at least hoping as much, but I wasn't feeling anything much happening between my legs. Besides, my nipples were getting even perkier, almost pointing upward. I could feel more weight on my head, too - apparently my hair had grown. I also noted that my skin had gotten a little darker.
Sighing, I opened the door to the bathroom so I could take a look in the mirror. What I saw was nice - this girl was tall and healthy-looking, with a perfect tan, light brown hair, wide brown eyes and perfect teeth. She looked like she spent a lot of time in the gym, but it didn't leave her looking mannish, just strong. She could kick those guys' asses at volleyball, and look good doing it.
Some pounding at my bedroom door interrupted my reverie. I ran back into the bedroom and picked the nightshirt off the floor. Where before it was like a tent that went down past my knees, I felt it clinging to my body and barely hugging my bottom. I grabbed the front and opened the door, quickly transferring that hand to my shirt to make sure that both front and back were covered.
I only had to look up at the man standing there because grabbing the shirt had me hunched forward a little, which was very nice. He was a good-looking guy, aside from the panic in his blue eyes - jet-black hair, a broad hairless chest, a firm jaw, nice lips. He had a nice voice, too, as he said my name like it was a question.
"Yes..." It's tough to tell what your own voice sounds like, but this one didn't sound bad. "Who are you?"
"Drew! I didn't change back, even though it's all my stuff in the room! What the hell's going on?"
"I don't know! Look, just turn around so I can put something on and we'll go see what's up with Jeff."
He complied, and I grabbed the bag marked "Nell Lincoln" and put it on the bed. As expected, it was full of women's clothing that would fit this tall frame. I quickly found a sports bra and matching panties, a t-shirt, and a pair of jean shorts and got into them. I found an envelope with a letter and a wallet, too; I put the letter aside but quickly opened the wallet for a glimpse of the driver's license. That was my new face, all right. I quickly noted that Nell was short for "Penelope" before slipping it in my pocket. "All right," I said, grabbing my key, "let's go."
I tried not to look at the bulge Drew's new equipment was making in Daphne's pajama bottoms as we walked down the hallway to Jeff's room. We seemed to be the only ones still awake, judging from the lack of shocked noises coming from the other rooms. I knocked on Jeff's door and was pleased to see a nineteen-year-old boy open it. His eyes darted between us. "Art?"
I gave a quick wave. "Could be worse," I said.
"Yeah, you could be me. Hi, I'm Drew."
Jeff's eyes bugged. "How...?"
"I don't know! I talked to the guy who was me, and he said everything went well. He even sent video! It was this place's lobby!"
Jeff is a smart kid and made the leap quicker than I did. "He wasn't in the room. You're room's close to the lobby, but what if it's closer to--"
"--mine." Drew looked away from Jeff to me, and then the three of us broke for my room. We dumped the other bag out over my bed. Drew snatched at the wallet that fell out and opened it.
"That's me," he said, "Richard John Hobart of San Francisco, California."
I gave him a pat on the back. "I'm so sorry. But look, that means someone else in this building has turned into you. We just have to talk to him, get things in place."
Drew took a deep breath and let it out. "Right. But in the meantime..." He reached for the letter that had fallen out of the bag. I reached for mine.
To the new Nell:
Arthur says that the MPs will be here soon, so I'll have to write this quickly. If I'd known what he was capable of, I would have just slept with the bastard.
Your new name is Penelope Lincoln, but everyone calls you Nell or Nelly. I played volleyball and lacrosse in college and volleyball as a pro for a little while, at least until I messed up my ankle. You can find all that on the internet. I'm working as an on-air personality for CalSports right now, doing play-by-play and postgame interviews during San Francisco Dragons lacrosse games. If I understand correctly, you should get this before the opener on June 2nd; I don't know how long George (that's my boss, George Wilder) will believe I'm too sick to travel otherwise, especially without some sort of insurance claim filed. I also do some speaking engagements.
Anyway, I was at this place because I didn't sleep with a drunk member of the Raiders public relations department a few months ago. He apologized by giving this reservation he wouldn't be able to use to my agent R.J. (as you might guess from the bags being in the same room, he was more than that). It was at a good time, between the NLL and MLL seasons, so we took it. From what I got out of him on the phone, Arthur thought you might be more agreeable.
I probably shouldn't refer to him as Arthur; he says he was originally this Jeremy Boyd person I've become, until someone reminded him that he'd be considered AWOL for six months as soon as Jeremy reappeared. Hopefully I'll be able to work something out that doesn't involve ten months in the stockade. That doesn't look too likely, though.
Enjoy my life. I think it's a pretty good one, and I hope you and the new R.J. make as good a team as we did. Maybe when I get out of the stockade, we can compare notes.
- The Old Nell
Drew said his letter told a similar story - R.J. has actually become Stephen, the guy who wound up with Jake/Ashlyn's life, after being pulled in by "Arthur Milligan". I must say that it's just fantastic to see what that bastard is doing with my good name.
We've spent that last four hours doing internet research on our new lives. I don't think we know nearly enough to drop into Nell and R.J.'s lives seamlessly, but it'll do.
Now someone's screaming. Time to go act like we know what's going on.