As Jason disappeared through the bedroom door, Hercules dumped a couple of boxes, ready for filling, by the bookcases.
“I’ll take care of the books if you want to take care of the ornaments. You’ve got a better idea on the more fragile ones.”
Calypso nodded and stood. She kicked off her shoes and walked over to the shelves, collecting a pile of packing paper as she passed it.
First, the little china spaniel that looked just like her little Trixie. Atlas had bought it for her to try and ease the grief when the dog had died.
Then, the funny papier mache pot, shaped like an apple and fantastically painted. She’d bought it at a street market a week after she’d been moved into the apartment and it was her first effort at putting her own stamp on the place.
And so it went on, every piece she wrapped came with a memory. One that was rolled up in paper and tucked inside the box, with no clue on when she’d touch it again.
She felt Hercules’s glances and was grateful for his silence as she packed her life away.
Jason walked out of the bedroom. “We definitely need your eye over our place, Petal. You work miracles with nothing.”
He looked across the room at her, kneeling by the bookcase in her neat skirt and top. Perfect for directing first impressions at a large corporation.
“Now I’ve done the whole photography thing and am out of your bedroom, how about getting changed? Packing’s bad enough without being in business gear.”
“You’re rather businessy too.”
“I’ll cope, you don’t have to.”
“Let me just finish with these ornaments. I’ve only got a few more.”
“It wasn’t an order.”
“I know, it’s just habit I suppose.”
Jason shook his head at her with a fond smile and took a box to the kitchen area. “What goes, what stays?”
“Anything plain white was here when I moved in. Anything other than white is mine.”
Jason queued up a playlist on his phone and they packed for the next little while to happy, boppy hits from the eighties and nineties.
Calypso finished the ornament packing as Rick Astley promised to never give her up, and went through to the bedroom to change.
When she opened the door again, Jason nodded approval. “Much more packing-friendly.”
She smiled ruefully, the yoga pants and lightweight jumper were a long way from stylish but they were comfortable and soft.
He continued. “Actually, what might be good for you to focus on next, if you trust us with the stuff out here, is to sort out your clothes and things. What you’re going to want for the next couple of weeks, versus what you would be happy to not see for a while.”
“Okay, I’ll just need some boxes.”
Hercules said. “don’t worry about the things you have hanging up that you don’t want straight away. I’ve got specific boxes for those that mean they don’t have to come off the hangars. Just pack what you want to have on hand at the cottage and immediately afterwards and I can take care of the rest tomorrow morning when I get the professional movers in.”
Jason looked at him curiously. “You need professionals?”
The bigger man shrugged. “I know what’s typically in these places and that coffee station and the wall of book cases are both extras. There’s no way I’m leaving them for someone else to enjoy. They belong to Calypso.”
“Then why are we packing at all?”
“Because I didn’t know about the bigger stuff and this way the precious things can come with us rather than being left in some warehouse.”
Calypso bit her lip, she was not going to start crying again, and retreated to the bedroom to sort clothes.
Jason called after her. “Just make sure you have all your underwear packed. Ladies’ underthings are terrifying.”
The laugh was more of an inelegant snort but it got rid of the lump in her throat and she started opening drawers.
She called through. “What sort of clothes will I need for the cottage?”
“Comfortable.” Came from both men.
“What about afterwards? I’m going to need to do interviews and things, aren’t I?”
Jason answered. “Do a mid term box for us to take home with the work clothes you feel best in.”
Thoughts of those interviews started to bubble up, what would they be like? She’d never done one. Where could she stay while she was looking for work? It’s not like she could rent a place without an income. Her breath came faster and she stood still for a moment, willing the anxiety back down. One step at a time. One bridge at a time. While planning was good, fretting was not and she needed to focus on what she could do right now.
“One step at a time, one step at a time.” She murmured the mantra as she went through each drawer, then the cupboard.
Comfortable was quick and easy. With the evening events and Saturday showings on top of normal reception hours, she’d spent most of the past two and a bit years at work. Her leisure time had been limited and it showed.
The interview outfits were more of a challenge. She’d never really thought about how her work clothes made her feel. She simply pulled something suitable together each morning and went to work.
Hercules poked his head through the doorway. “Can I come in?”
She looked around. “Of course.”
“How are you getting on with the sorting?”
She nodded to the tiny pile on the bed. “That’s the clothes for the cottage, I’ll get my suitcase out for them in a minute. Right now I’m trying to take Jason’s advice on the interview clothes and I’m completely stuck. I’ve just realised I don’t particularly love any of my clothes, they’re just there.”
Hercules puffed out his cheeks and scratched his head. “Nothing you go for when you know it’s going to be a tough day?”
Calypso shook her head.
“Nothing that makes you smile or feel a bit rebellious when you put it on?”
She pointed at the clothes on the bed.
Hercules frowned. “Okay. As I see it, we’ve got two problems. One, you don’t have enough casual clothes for three days off, let alone fourteen. Two, your dad chose all your work clothes and they bore you silly. Solution for both, you need to go shopping.”
“You have a day free tomorrow, plus maybe Friday morning to splash out on cottage clothes. We can leave problem two for when you get back.”
“Splashing out sounds like a really bad idea right now.”
“Not having anything to wear will be worse. Trust me on this. Go shopping, get clothes that will make you smile every day for the next two weeks. Then when you come back, you can hunt out one, maybe two outfits that make you feel like you could rule the world. You’re going to be snapped up in an instant and then when you’re confident about your income again, you can buy stuff that suits your new workplace.”
Calypso twisted her fingers together. “I’ve never done an interview before. I just worked for Daddy, then got put on reception at Z Corp. I’ve no idea what to do.”
She was enveloped in a hug that would put a grizzly bear to shame. “We’ll work it out after your break. Jase and I aren’t going anywhere, and nor is Circe or any of your other friends. Now grab that suitcase and promise me it’ll be full by this time tomorrow.”
Calypso gave him a watery smile. “I’ll do my best.”
Jason wandered into the room. “What are you doing your best on?”
“Shopping. Hercules says I need more casual clothes.”
Hercules pointed at the bed. “That is the complete sum and total of our girl’s non work wardrobe.”
“Yep, you’re going shopping. Can we give your old man an apoplexy and send all your Titan stuff to the charity shops?”
“It’s not that bad is it?”
“On you? No. But I’m pretty sure I could talk a couple of your grads into putting aside some pieces from the latest work range for after your break. There are a couple of outfits I think you’ll rock. That’s if you don’t mind wearing Z Corp stuff given what they’ve done to you.”
“If they make me feel a bit rebellious but still look suitable for work, I don’t mind at all.”
Hercules rubbed his hands together. “Right then. Suitcase for your clothes and I’ll get the rest put into storage with your other big things. I won’t let Jason get rid of them just yet.”
Calypso nodded and pulled her suitcase out from under the bed. She didn’t even try to spin out the packing process by doing it neatly. She simply picked up the pile on the bed and dumped it inside, then spun and ran through to the bathroom, returning a minute or so later with a toiletry bag, and a plastic bag with larger bottles. They followed the clothes in with a little more care, tucking into pockets in the lid, which she then closed and zipped.
Jason grinned. “Efficient as always. We’ve got your knicknacks and kitchen stuff ready to go, is there anything you’d rather keep with us than in Hercules’s warehouse?”
She shook her head. “I’d say some of my books but they’re already packed and it’s not practical. This way I’ve got more incentive to find something quickly so I can get them out again.”
Hercules frowned. “I didn’t think of that. What about reading at the cottage? You’re going to want something there aren’t you?”
“I’ve got a book in my bag, and I can buy another one tomorrow. The latest release in one of my favourite series came out last week so I’ve been meaning to go and get it.”
“Okay then, I think we’re ready to head out. If you remember anything, I’ll be here with the moving team tomorrow morning so just call or text me and I’ll set it aside for you.”
The tears that threatened now where grateful ones. Who knew people could be so nice?
Jason picked up her case and they walked out through the apartment together. Calypso closed the door, locked it, and handed the key to Hercules. “Here. Just in case I forget later.”
He took them solemnly and tucked them into a pocket, then picked up the two boxes sitting next to the door and they left the building together.