The Response

Calypso could almost feel the shock radiating off her computer screen in the pause that followed.

Hecate’s reply, when it came, got straight to the point, “What are you going to do?”

“I had a meeting with Athena a little while ago, she’s got me doing a project for her that would be severely disrupted if I go to Singapore, so I’ve emailed her to let her know the situation.”

“Anything back?”

“Not yet.”

Calypso looked up from her typing to see the elegant young man from her meeting with Athena approaching. She added a quick addendum to the email.

“Actually, I think I’m getting an in-person response, I’ll let you know what happens.”

The young man smiled kindly at her, “I’m to take over duties here so you can talk strategy with Athena. She’s not very happy with your father, or hers for that matter, she thinks he’s playing a deep game.”

Calypso sighed, “It’s all way over my head I’m afraid, politics is just not my thing.”

“They level they play at here, I’m not sure it’s anyone’s thing.”

He stuck out his hand, “Jason, I’m Athena’s exec assistant and general shadow.”

Calypso shook it, “Calypso, receptionist and general traffic director.”

He grinned and took her seat, waving her off to the lifts, “You go plan, I’ll direct traffic for a bit and promise to avoid too many accidents.”

As she hit the button for the tenth floor again, Calypso realised the butterflies in her stomach this time weren’t entirely bad. She was looking forward to this meeting.

Athena herself was waiting at the lift and this time, took her through to a neat, efficient office. They sat at a small conference table in the corner and, after checking whether tea was required, Athena got down to business.

“Thank you for coming to me with this. Father knew I had you on a special project when he approved your trip to Singapore. And that’s all it is, although I don’t think your father realises it. You’re only meant to be going for a month.”

Calypso frowned, “Unless my father finds a way around it.”

“You think he’s up to something?”

“The only reason I can think of him suddenly wanting me on-hand, after two years of no contact, is that he’s decided it’s time I got married and he’s found a prospective son-in-law he likes.”

“He’s that stuck in the dark ages?”

“Yes, and I had no idea that wasn’t the way it was done until I came here. To be honest, it always bothered me, although I could never have said anything. He always spoke about handing the company on to my husband, with no view to that man’s relationship with me.”

Athena grabbed her laptop from the desk and pinged off a quick note, “One of my Singapore team, she’s a genius at knowing the gossip. Let’s see what she can find out.”

She put her laptop aside again and leaned her elbows on the table, “The way I see it is this. Your father summons you to Singapore, assuming you’re the same biddable little girl you where when he last saw you. The thing is, you’re not, and my father knows that. Plus, you’re on special assignment for me. My money is that he’s looking to aggravate your father with you choosing not to turn up. Showing he’s lost you along with everything else.”

Calypso bit her lip, “Oh dear, maybe I should go.”

Athena looked at her, “It’s your choice, but remember what the Fates said. And frankly, two old men having an ego contest is none of your business or mine. I’m not interested in being a puppet and I think you’re not keen on the idea either.”

Calypso was still torn. It clearly was a game of control and one-upmanship, but this was the man who raised her, cleaned up skinned knees, applauded at every piano recital and hugged her when her beloved spaniel died of old age.

The laptop pinged.

“Oh, she’s good. You’re right, Atlas has been spending a lot of time socialising with a bunch of the expat families in his apartment building and one of them has a son a bit older than you. He works for one of the big banks. Word is that he’s been showing around old pictures of you from Titan days and general consensus is that you look like a lovely little wife for a banker in need of a hostess for business dinners.”

She scrolled down. “Oh, she’s even sent a photo, look.”

Calypso looked, and looked away. The man was lounging back in a bar, cigar in one hand, whiskey in the other, sneering at the camera.

She looked at Athena, “I’m bad at confrontation. If I say no, he’ll browbeat me into it. What can I do?”

“I’d suggest we confound them with the ultimate passive aggressive move. Avoidance. You simply don’t show up for the flight as you’re already on a plane to one of our other offices on this assignment for me. I’ve always intended you to do the redecoration in person. We’ll just move the timeline up a bit.”

Calypso’s smile lit up the office, “I’d love that.”

Her face fell, “But what about reception?”

Athena laughed, “We’ll have to put about three people on to do what you’ve been doing, seemingly without effort, on your own. I’ve suggested it be added into the graduate trainee rotation.”

“They’ll hate that!”

“They’ll also learn more about how the business operates than just about anywhere else. On a more immediate note though, to do this properly, you need to be out of the office from pretty much now. I can spare Jason for a couple of days and he’ll rather enjoy being down there. If you can spend this afternoon training him up, and then be on call for him over the next few weeks, he can become assistant supervisor for the reception area and leave you free for interior design.”

“Assistant Supervisor?”

“You’re officially the Reception Manager, you should have a team under you running the desk on a day to day basis. We’ll just start that happening.”

Calypso sat back, amazed. She’d walked in with her walls caving in, and now they were falling away, freeing her to explore new horizons.

She nodded, “Let’s do it. And, thank you.”

Athena smiled, “There are times us daughters of tyrants have to stick together, plus I’m getting a good deal out of this. I think you’re going to make us a lot of money with the mass market homewares.”

Actions planned, Calypso returned to the main lobby and a ready-to-learn Jason. They ran through processes and people and busy times and schedules.

By the end of it, Jason was goggling and had almost filled a brand new notebook with checklists, useful tips, personal preferences and more.

“I am very glad you’re going to be on the other end of the phone. We’re going to have one hell of a time training up a junior team on all this.”

Calypso smiled distractedly. Another of Athena’s minions had just sent through the travel itinerary and it was going to be a very busy few weeks. A first sweep of all the locations to get a feel for it all, then a second, longer visit to each for the actual redecoration. First stop was Paris, the second was Milan.

She messaged both Hecate and Circe with the news. She kept the communication very simple, but promised full disclosure in person.

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