Melissa Hurst was a friend to Sarah Barnes, whom she met when the two worked together on a modelling shoot. Through Sarah, Melissa met and grew close to Hannah Ashworth after discovering she was bulimic, an illness which Melissa also suffered from. Melissa helped Hannah to be subtle and hide her eating disorder, encouraging her to exercise regularly, go without food and to stay away from her family and friends so that she was not 'tempted' by food or alcohol - even persuading Hannah to stay at home when her family went to France.
With the Ashworths leaving Hannah and Gilly Roach home alone, Melissa spent almost the whole time staying at the house with them, claiming she didn't want to go home as her mum would have forced her to eat. Hannah promised that she and Melissa would get through bulimia together and the girls soon started an extreme work out regime, drinking only water and eating very little. Melissa had difficulties with Gilly, who believed she and Hannah were taking drugs, due to a noticeable Hannah's personality - a fear also shared by her friends Sarah, Nancy Hayton and John Paul McQueen. Their suspicions were reinforced when Sarah overheard Hannah and Melissa in the SU Bar's toilets, discussing "disposing of the evidence" and later the same evening, Hannah passing out.
Upon the return of the Ashworths from France, Hannah’s mother, Suzanne Ashworth, was concerned as to how skinny Hannah had become. Melissa sarcastically stated that she had given Hannah drugs, resulting in Melissa being banned from the house. Melissa though continued to visit Hannah, angering Gilly. Hannah and Melissa threatened to say he had raped Hannah if he spoke out against Melissa. In spite of these threats, Gilly alerted Rhys Ashworth to his concerns about Melissa and Melissa was forcibly thrown out from the Ashworth's barbecue. Melissa had complained about a headache during the barbecue and continued to feel unwell as she and Hannah stood in the rain waiting for a taxi. Melissa collapsed and was admitted to hospital, being taken to intensive care.
Hannah visited Melissa in hospital and told her that she was all she had in the world and she was happy they met. Melissa told her that she was a true friend. Hannah applied make-up to Melissa, who was so weak she couldn't open her lip gloss.
Melissa eventually engineered a plot to escape to Milan with Hannah, fearing that if she stayed in hospital and continued to be force-fed, she would have got fat. Hannah agreed to the plan because she was fed up with her family interfering in her life. The two friends successfully escaped the hospital the next day, but had to return to Hannah's home to retrieve her passport - where Rhys and Suzanne grabbed her to prevent her from going. Melissa argued with Hannah's family before the stress of the situation caused her to suffer a heart attack and, despite Suzanne's attempts to revive her, Melissa died. Hannah then cradled Melissa's body, crying hysterically.
A vision of Melissa later appeared to Hannah, as Hannah struggled to cope with her grief and was terrified that her mother will use Melissa's death to force her to eat. Hannah tried on one of Melissa's size zero dresses, but struggles to fit into the outfit. "Melissa" helps and zips it up for Hannah, before vanishing.
- Melissa was the first ever character in a British soap opera to die on-screen from an eating disorder.