Friends and Lovers

“Oh, you’re that Calypso, Hecate’s daughter. Yes, she’s a bit intense. A little goes a long way I find.”

Calypso, who’d given up four of her hard-won Sundays so far to have awkward and uncomfortable tea with her mother, agreed fervently.

They compared notes on offices. Calypso sat watch at the London Headquarters. Circe was the gatekeeper for the Milan black granite and glass basilica of fashion.

Before she knew it, the workers who weren’t anyone in the world of Z were trotting out of the doors and preparations began for the evening event. Circe was not required to work weekends, so devoted them to her side hustle (details not to be shared over work platforms, don’t worry it’s not in competition to Z and it’s perfectly legal). She also apologised but was going to be on the annual mandatory corporate training camp for the next two weeks. She promised to check in when she could but not to realistically expect a reply from her for a fortnight.

Calypso knew that training camp all too well. Her first one had been sprung on her a week after she’d started and she honestly thought she was going to die, either of exhaustion or boredom, depending on which part of the day she was enduring at the time.

Emerging from her flat on Sunday morning, Calypso was surprised and delighted to bump into Odysseus in the downstairs lobby. The corporation were also putting him up in a company flat for his time in London. Of course it was the penthouse to her first floor one bedroom but she’d grown guiltily fond of it over time and had turned it into a cosy haven from the general drabness of her life.

Odysseus poked around it, pronounced it delightful then bustled her up to the top floor for a drink with a view.

She knew what was coming, she wasn’t quite as naive as her father liked to think, not in this industry, and the past two years had dashed any remaining rosy tint from her gaze.

To be honest, it was hardly the first time this had happened since her move to Z Fashion and these days she welcomed the human contact. The difference this time was the quality of the champagne and the charm of the man. He was easily the most considerate lover she’d had.

She forcibly pushed thoughts of him with Circe from her mind. It was a lovely day, followed by a number of lovely evenings and two more beautiful Sundays. Odysseus was easy company, considerate and fun, while respecting her opinions and wishes. This was new territory and she once again found unsuitable thoughts about obedience and autonomy invading her mind in unguarded moments.

Calypso allowed herself to indulge in hopes and thoughts of more charming days at the penthouse. Her dreams came crashing back to earth on that Monday a fortnight later, during her conversation with Circe.

She’d avoided mentioning Odysseus or her time with him in favour of letting Circe vent about the ‘Olympics’. It seemed, though, that Circe might have had a touch of witchiness about her as well.

“So, did you sleep with him?”

“Who?”

“Odysseus of course. Lovely guy, great to spend time with, awesome in the sack. You’d be crazy if you didn’t.”

Calypso blushed but gamely replied, “I guess I’m not crazy then. How could you bear to let him go?”

“Well he was never ‘mine’ in the first place. I mean, for a guy who can’t keep it in his pants, he’s pretty damn fixated on that wife of his.”

Calypso’s stomach fell through the floor.

“He’s married?”

“He didn’t tell you? OMG, the asshole. Wait till I get my hands on him.”

“I think I may need to go and get a drink of water.”

“Oh crap, and I dropped it on you like that too. I don’t care because, frankly I refuse to be a nice person, but you, you’re still hoping for romance and happy ever after aren’t you?”

“It sounds so pathetic.”

“It’s brave is what it is. You keep your chin up. Either chuck him to the curb or use him for fun, whatever makes you feel best. I did the latter, obviously. I think you’re more of a tossing out the garbage type, am I right?”

Calypso smiled through a sheen of tears, “Definitely ditching him.”

“Okay, you’ve got this. I have to go, conference on the top floor, I have to ferry everyone up. We’ll catch up later.”

Calypso took a few deep breaths, raced to the water fountain to refill her water bottle and returned to find the topic of that messenger conversation lounging against the reception desk.

Her steps faltered.

He looked around with a smile that faded to concern, “What’s wrong?”

“What’s your wife’s name?”

“Penelope, why?”

“Is she comfortable with you sleeping around with girls in every city you stop in?”

“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, and she’s always the one I go back to.”

She took a deep breath, “I’d like you to leave me alone. I had no idea you were married and I don’t want to be with a cheater.”

He looked at her levelly, “Alright then. That’s a fair decision if that’s what you want. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t judge any of the other ladies in the office here who may disagree.”

She snorted, “Circe disagrees and she’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a friend. I am in no position to sit in judgement on other people.”

He stuck out his hand, “Friends?”

She looked at him.

“Sort of?”

She gave a half smile and shook her head, “I really don’t understand you, or how you get away with treating women like dirt, but here I am letting you get away with it. I hope the rest of your stay here goes well and that I never see you again.”

Odysseus blinked, impressed, and headed to the lifts.

He called over his shoulder, “By the way, I meant what I said about your apartment, you did a great job on it. I’ve mentioned it to my boss.”

The doors closed behind him and Calypso dismissed his final puzzling statement with a mental shrug.

The world returned to being drab and she started mental preparations for her next tea appointment with Hecate.

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