Tea and Pictures

Sunday was tea with Hecate, Calypso wasn’t quite sure why. They’d had dinner in Paris only a short time ago but Hecate had insisted.

As they sipped tea, Hecate looked across the table at her. “So things are going quite well for you now. An interesting project with great potential for future advancement, a bit more respect for what you do day-to-day and your father distracted by work. Well done.”

Calypso smiled. “Thank you. Although the last one doesn’t really have anything to do with me. Apparently there are some big supply contracts up for renewal that have him all tied up in knots. I am appreciating the reduced attention though.”

Her stomach gave a guilty cringe as she said that but it was true, and she’d stopped denying it some time ago.

Hecate toyed with her teacup. “It’s good to see you doing well. You see, this is likely to be our last tea together for quite some time. I’m relocating the business to Thailand.”

“What?!”

“It’s growing incredibly fast. Everyone wants in on our fashion advice AI engine and everything in this part of the world is just too slow and too expensive. Bangkok has all the skills and infrastructure I need at a fraction of the cost.”

“So when do you leave?”

“Tomorrow, it all got finalised rather quickly. It’ll take me a bit of time to get everything set up, so I might be a little out of touch for a while but you can still get me on email if you need anything.”

Calypso nodded slowly. It honestly didn’t make all that much difference to her, especially if she could still occasionally email. It’s not like they were close, or even particularly comfortable together, even now.

Hecate gave a little shrug. “We both know it’s not exactly a big change in your life but I hope you’ll think about coming to visit once I’m settled.”

“That would be nice. I’d need to work out something to get time off but I’m sure something can be arranged.”

Hecate frowned. “Just use your holiday leave. You must have heaps owing by now.”

“I don’t have any. When they added me to Daddy’s employment contract, we were tied to the same conditions and neither of us have any annual leave allowance.”

“I’m pretty sure that’s against a whole pile of labour laws.”

“Ares wrote the contract himself. He managed to get it through the various industry bodies as part of the Titan takeover, rather than a normal work arrangement.”

Hecate huffed. “Well, as soon as I have a bit of time to spare, I’ll have a chat with Hera. That’s really not appropriate.”

“That would be nice, thank you.”

Calypso spent Sunday evening dithering over which photos to take in. It wasn’t like she had vast numbers of them, really only five full collections. It took a while to get ten images she really liked in her chosen theme. Should she take in the first set, with the images of iconic London landmarks, or one of the more recent, quirkier, ones?

On Monday morning, she tucked a set of five slim photo albums under her desk and tried to pretend they weren’t there. With any luck, Jason and Hercules would have forgotten all about them over the weekend.

The first wave of couriers arrived, along with her assistant for the morning, Clio, who was looking decidedly frazzled after falling asleep on the bus and waking up three stops too late. She’d then been splashed by a passing delivery van, adding large muddy splotches to a brand new skirt, on the day she had her final assignment interview on the grad programme.

Calypso sent her for a glass of water to calm down, then to Arachne’s department for damage assessment. The team there would either get the stain out or suggest a good place for a replacement in short order.

Which left Calypso dealing with the Monday morning rush on her own. She realised she now missed having someone by her side to help juggle the people and phones. How had she done this all by herself for two years?

As she signed off the last of the bulk deliveries, one of the lifts disgorged her grad, who flew across the intervening space and flung her arms around Calypso’s shoulders.

She managed to work out that she was amazing, the fabrics team were saints and miracle workers and her skirt was saved. Indeed, when Calypso managed to get her to stand back for a quick inspection, all that remained of the muddy mess that had claimed one side of the chic A-line skirt was a rapidly-fading shadow of damp.

Clio, determined to make up for her time away from the desk, powered through the delivery notifications and soon had the storage area back to its usual half-full state.

As she was sitting down after yet another parcel handover, Clio accidentally kicked the little pile of albums. She bent to pick them up.

“What are these?”

Calypso tried to look casual. “Jason suggested I add some photo prints to the homewares collection. Now I’ve only got these ones of London so far, but I’d love your thoughts on what works and what doesn’t, so I have a bit more of an idea for the other cities.”

Clio moved to the side of the counter to pore over the pictures, laying out all the albums, then oohing and aahing over some of them and frowning over others. She was joined by an ebb and flow of couriers and delivery drivers, then the lunch crowd, all of whom had an opinion. Oh well, it was keeping everyone entertained and none of them knew it was her who took the pictures.

She wasn’t sure whether to be amused or appalled when, early in the afternoon, Clio dropped a couple of sheets of paper on her keyboard. “What’s this?”

“I figured you’d like more than just one opinion, so I set up a poll on the pictures. This way you can see which ones are the most popular, and also took some suggestions for other ideas. There are some really cool ones! Can I help you brief them in to the photographer? Who are you using?”

At that moment, Clio’s calendar notification pinged, and she turned pale. “My review interview. I forgot. I haven’t studied or anything.”

Calypso patted her shoulder. “There’s nothing to study. You’ve been doing these jobs for a year now. You just need to talk about what you enjoyed and what you learned. You’ll be great.”

Clio bit her lip, but nodded. “Okay, I can do this. Wish me luck!”

With a quick but fervent hug she flew off to the lifts, leaving Calypso to go through the unexpected survey.

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