I knew some of the workings of this hotel in and out. One of those working was the laundry, especially in the day preceding an event night.
At 2:07pm, everyone sent down the clothes they intended to wear for washing, steaming and alterations etcetera. It was supposed to be five past two, but for some reason there was always a two minute delay.
At 3:30, the women's dresses were delivered on two-metre clothing rails, shortly followed by the men's suits. This part of the routine only had one flaw: sometimes the clothes were mislabelled. It was safe to assume that all the rooms had at least one item of clothing to be delivered, and so I imagined it was easy to get them mixed up.
It wasn't difficult to claim one of the outfits, especially ones that had no defining features and could easily get mistaken for another.
At this time, I would wait by my bedroom door for the sound of the rails going past. After eleven seconds, I would quickly open it, coming part way out of the room.
"Oh, excuse me!" My voice deliberately flustered. "Sorry, I think you missed my room."
The laundry woman for floor fifteen, Janet, would take in my planned appearance: visibly in my underwear but covered by a flimsy but opaque dressing gown, tied at the waist. My hair damp from the shower and hastily clipped to the back of my head. She's smile and roll her eyes.
"This is room fifteen-forty-five, isn't it?" She'd laugh.
"It is. You always get this mixed up with the other one," I'd grin.
I had no idea what number this other room was. It had just so happened that the first time she'd gotten them mixed up, it had been my room number written on the label.
"Is it this one?" She'd hold up a dress. If I didn't like it, I'd say it was the one beside it and indicate the one I meant. If not, I'd take the one she showed me.
She'd apologise, with a laugh, and continue pushing the rail down the hall.
Today's outfit was an unremarkable black cocktail dress. Popular among rich teenage girls. In fact, a few of the girls going tonight were supposed to be wearing it. Strapless, sweetheart neckline, reaching halfway down my thighs, tight-fitted. This one was actually a little bit too small for me, but it just made my cleavage look bigger and my waist look smaller. This only worked to my advantage. The dress seemed as though it was meant to look like this.
I spent three hours straightening my hair and decorated my face with fake lashes and dark red lipstick, just to make myself look a bit more mature. Classy, I was going for. Around my neck hung a rose-shaped pendant, resting just below my chest. Lastly, my only pair of three-inch heels, black to match everything. The hair completed the look, hanging in thick, shiny layers around my face.
I met Ewan in the lobby. He had also gone to similar lengths to look other than as he did, styling his hair differently and wearing a suit almost the same as others I had seen passing by.
"You look the part," I commented, softening my accent considerably to show I understood the standard we were setting.
"As do you," he offered his arm, bent at the elbow, and I placed both of my hands upon it.
He escorted me through the lobby and towards the ballroom, allowing me to chat in a hushed tone as we walked. Occasionally, he would intercede with a comment which would make me giggle a little bit too much. He'd laugh along, before changing the subject slightly.
Just before we reached the ballroom, he said "Smile at the bouncers as we pass."
And I flashed them a charming grin, and they nodded in acknowledgement.
As we walked across the ballroom, he told me "When they ask how we're going to pay for our drinks, take out your credit card, say 'by card', giggle and then put it back in your purse."
So once we were sat on the precarious-looking stools at the bar, I ordered the cutest sounding cocktail from the menu. I did not like that one, but I knew most of the girls my age would be ordering it because of the common lie that they'd never really had a cocktail before.
"And how will you be paying for your drinks today?" The bartender asked us both.
"By card," I said, holding up my credit card.
"By card," Ewan said simultaneously, presenting his own.
I responded with an affectionate-sounding giggle and returned my card to my purse. Of course, we had to behave as though we had always been as popular as we were currently pretending to be.
After around half an hour, Ewan cast a glance up and down my body. "You actually do look beautiful tonight."
"I look typical tonight. I mean, look around. Half of these girls are wearing the exact same-"
"I'm aware of that," he cut in. "But I was paying you and honest compliment. Yes, the fact that your body language naturally radiates confidence helps situations like ours, but your smile is genuinely stunning, too."
"I'm not going to lie to you, Ewan. As an 'honest compliment', that was a little bit difficult to decipher."
"And you're also a little bit difficult to decipher," he raised an eyebrow.
"Really? I don't think so. I mean, I'm really struggling to keep this accent prim and proper and I'm sure that's pretty obvious."
"Well," he laughed, his eyes amused, "We'll just have to see."
And with that, the night began.