Wildwood

The email was short and simple, similar to the one she’d sent Amy. She let Hecate know her new details and that she’d be in London, job hunting, the following week.

She didn’t expect to hear back of course, Hecate had far too much going on.

After ten minutes of sitting at the computer, telling herself this, she grumped, closed the laptop, grabbed her camera and went for a walk.

She and Herne crossed paths again, this time at the CoOp. He was waiting for her as she came out and they walked home together.

“What are you taking a break from?” He asked.

“Drafting those introduction emails Pythia said to do. I want to get a few done before I send them to her.”

Herne frowned. “You don’t need her permission do you? You’re an experienced professional and good at putting words together. Why wait for the rubber stamp?”

Calypso gulped and laughed nervously. “Habit I suppose.”

“The thing I’ve always found with job hunting is that you need to warm up to it. The first few contacts, the first few interviews aren’t great but they get you into the groove. You can’t nail the later ones if you haven’t hit you thumb a couple of times on the earlier ones.”

She laughed properly this time. “Interesting analogy. I’ll take a look at them and see if I’m brave enough to hit ‘send’.”

Amy said she was brave.

 “You know what? Yes. Those emails are going out this afternoon. Thank you.”

He gave her an easy grin as they paused by her back gate. “Happy to help.”

She stepped through the gate and turned to face him again.  “Well, see you tomorrow.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

With a teasing wink, he walked on and she headed up the path to the house, glad no one could see her blush.

An hour of reading and revision later, she’d sent emails to five of the recommended contacts on her list. She’d see how those went before sending any more.

She looked at the screen. Still nothing from Hecate. May as well get some of that thumb-hitting practice in then. She scanned the job sites for advertised roles and started applying.

The next morning, her inbox had two emails, one was Herne, forwarding the Wildwood details from Cynthia, the other from Jason, confirming pickup time on Saturday.

What a strange two weeks, long but short and about to come to an end. She checked the Wildwood email and smiled at the stern order to wear shoes for walking. Cynthia had clearly been quoting Mr Green directly, she almost heard his deep, gruff tones.

Finally, the time came and Herne pulled up outside. She hurried out and jumped into the passenger seat with a smile and thanks as he held the door for her.

She turned in her seat to say hello to the dogs, lying in the very back and spotted a large, covered box in the back seat. “What’s that?”

“Owlbert’s cage. Mr Green said he wanted to meet all the animals.”

“It doesn’t bother him to travel like that?”

“He’s used to it. It’s either this or be left behind and that bird has the worst case of FOMO I’ve ever come across.”

Herne had put the directions to Wildwood into the car’s navigation system, so Calypso was free to watch the world go by.

Once they were comfortably on the main road, with no immediate turnoffs, Herne asked. “Anything on the thumb-hitting front?”

“I’ve swung the hammer a few times, both emails and job ads. I guess I’ll have to wait and see whether any of them actually get the nail.”

“And back to London tomorrow.”

“Yes.”

Herne frowned a little then asked. “What do you think we should tell Mr Green about us?”

“Oh. I hadn’t thought about that. Cynthia would have told him we were a couple wouldn’t she.”

“Yes, and if you’re okay with it, I’d like to clear that up with him. I don’t want to go into this under false pretences.”

“I agree and I think he’ll like you for your honesty. It’ll probably make him laugh too. He always used to say a woman on a mission was the most terrifying creature in existence.”

“He must know some interesting women.”

“I always got the feeling he would have some incredible stories to tell if you could just convince him to part with them.”

The car was now winding through back country lanes again and before they knew it, the old stone walls of Wildwood Grange were before them.

Herne swung the car down the drive and pulled up in a wide parking area near the front door. Calypso hopped out before he had a chance to get there, so he went to the back instead. “Independent woman, you’re terribly hard on a poor, fragile, male ego.”

Calypso laughed. “Try that again with a straight face.”

Holly and Ivy bounded down from their enclosure and Herne checked the back seat before deciding to leave Owlbert sleeping happily until he had the lay of the land.

The door opened as they approached and a tall, fierce-looking man with a silver-grey beard and hair appeared in the entrance. He observed their approach under beetling brows and when no member of the party took fright, he smiled and stepped out to greet them.

“Welcome, welcome. Nice to see you’ve proper dogs, and well-behaved at that. Never seen the appeal of those ones that fit in teacups. What’s the point? Where’s your other companion?”

Herne shook the proffered hand and replied. “He’s snoozing in his cage in the car. If you have a sheltered spot outside I can leave it. He’ll wake and demand introductions in his own time.”

The man laughed. “I have indeed. Go and fetch him while I try and see little Calypso in the elegant young lady before me.”

Calypso flushed and smiled. “It is me Mr Green I promise. It’s so good to see you again.”

He took her hand and kissed her cheek, then raised a peppery brow. “So this is your man? Not one I would have imagined your father settling on.”

She went properly red at that. “Oh, we’re not actually a couple. It sort of came about at the pub when Cynthia turned up and Mr Jameson said she was looking for her next husband and we sort of pretended we were together and well, here we are. We both wanted to make sure you knew the truth though.”

The man locally known as the King of the Hill, barked a laugh and ruffled Calypso’s hair like she was ten years old again. “You’re a good girl and I like that you brought him anyway. Do you think he’d suit Wildwood?”

“I’d never have asked Cynthia about it otherwise. It just seemed such an obvious place somehow.”

Mr Green nodded thoughtfully, watching Herne as he walked back towards them, covered cage in hand.

“How is your father by the way? I heard there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the business.”

“It was bought out by Z Corp and my father was relocated to Singapore. I’ve been on reception in their London office until recently but am now looking for something new.”

“Back up in London.”

“Most likely.” Calypso heaved a sigh she hadn’t known was there.

Herne arrived, and Mr Green ushered them inside, and through the house to the wide, covered terrace, where Owlbert was left in peace and they returned to the large, open living area for tea and biscuits.

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