“What? I’m not.” She looked down at the long, white dress she was wearing. “Oh, no, no, no. This is a template for a ball gown. See, it’s just cotton.”
Herne looked confused, Jason took pity on him and explained. “When a designer is making a one-off dress for someone, they make it in a cheap fabric first, so they don’t waste any of the expensive stuff.”
Herne didn’t look entirely convinced, but nodded. “Sounds like a lot of work. What’s the event?”
Jason beamed. “We’re getting married!”
Calypso rushed in. “These two are getting married. I’m one of the guests. It’s a very formal wedding.”
Herne’s true smile finally broke through. “Congratulations. I look forward to seeing the photos.”
Jason looked evil. “Oh you should come as her plus one. You’d look fabulous in a tux.”
Hercules put in. “Jason, don’t make things awkward.”
Jason was on a roll. “Oh come on, they’re clearly ‘friends’ and they’ll look gorgeous together. Plus, can you imagine what it’s going to do to people at work?”
Calypso tried to ignore the heat racing up her cheeks and changed the subject. “So what brought you over here?”
Herne’s smile broadened into a grin. “News. I just got off the phone with Mr Green and he told me to get ‘that Cynthia woman’ to give him a call.”
“You got Wildwood?”
Herne nodded, she threw her arms around him. “That’s wonderful!”
She stepped back, her face even hotter than before. “I mean, congratulations. I know it’s the perfect place for you.”
His hands were resting on her waist. “Remember you promised to visit.”
“Of course. I need to get settled into whatever I’ll be doing in London first but I’ll certainly come down.”
Jason interjected. “Don’t worry, we’ll make sure she gets on a train or whatever.”
Herne stepped back but stayed focused on her. “Whenever you want to escape the big smoke, we’ll be waiting.”
“Who’s we?” Jason was clearly determined to be part of the conversation.
Herne turned. “Me, two large dogs and a grumpy owl.”
Calypso gasped. “I have to show you the photos. They turned out really well.”
She turned to fetch the computer but was stopped by Hercules. “I’ll go get whatever you’re after. You need to stand still and get pinned.”
Herne shook his head. “I need to get going I’m afraid. I just dropped by to give you the news. Email the pictures to me.”
“Okay.” Her heart felt too cold and heavy for her chest.
He moved closer, crooked a finger under her chin, then gently kissed her. Stepping back, he said. “Visit.”
Nodding to the other two, he turned and left.
Silence reigned in the kitchen for a few minutes, then Jason grabbed a box of pins from the table. “Right, fitting time and if you don’t bring that gorgeous man to our wedding, I’m not going to be happy.”
A short time later, Calypso ducked back upstairs to change, carefully easing the dress away to keep the pins in place, and not sticking into her. With the dress tweaks done, there was no reason to stay, so the three of them headed back to London.
Calypso couldn’t bring herself to pull out the laptop and send the pictures to Herne and Mr Green that evening. Instead, she curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine and entertained her two new flatmates with stories of her adventures in the wilds of rural England. They in turn brought her up to date with the Z Corp news; reception was still a mess, Aphrodite and Artemis were arguing over something but neither would tell anyone what, Hades had brought his three dogs into the office and Hercules was going to have to replace all the sofas and chairs in the Finance area after they were enthusiastically chewed to pieces.
Jason looked a little uncomfortable. “One other thing too…”
Calypso looked over at him, he fiddled with his wine glass, not meeting her eyes. “Athena’s handed your homewares project to Psyche.”
She gulped. “Oh. That was quick. Well, I’m glad it’s still going to happen and I hope whatever I’ve done gives her a bit of a head start.”
He smiled weakly. “I’m sure it has.”
Calypso sighed. She’d loved that project.
Hercules changed the subject. “Did you get any good photos? I’ve got the current lot going up in all the executive meeting rooms.”
Jason added. “And we got hold of a scan of your signature so all of them have your name across the corner.”
Calypso sighed, yet more trouble, then caught herself. She wasn’t at Z Corp any longer. Their political games and manoeuvres were no longer her problem.
“I do have some pictures. Animal portraits this time.”
She fetched the laptop and brought up her favourite images of all the dogs, the cat and Owlbert.
Hercules flicked back and forth through the set. “I love them.”
Jason was hanging over his shoulder. “Athena is going to die over that owl.”
“And Artemis is going to love those two hounds. I’ll let her approve them for her office before I add the signature.”
Hercules and Jason smirked at each other, then looked at the photos again.
“Hercules said. “That cat would work nicely for the daywear group’s kitchen area.”
Calypso put in. “I’ll need to get permission from the owner for both the cat and the mastiff.”
Hercules was now looking through some of her other pictures. “Oh, hello.”
Jason looked over. “Main foyer, lift well wall, life sized or larger if you love me.”
Calypso looked at the screen. It was the picture she’d taken of Herne in the ruins at Wildwood; his dogs at his side and Owlbert on his arm, framed by the remains of a church-like stone window and completely at home in the forest. It was the best picture she’d ever taken.
The two men looked at her, brows raised.
She set her jaw. “The animals are fine for you to use. The photo of Herne isn’t.”
Jason said. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”
Hercules looked at her. “You need to do something with it. It’s hot.”
“I’ll send it to him, along with the other ones and he can put it up in his vet practice or something.”
Jason snorted. “Only if you want every husband hunter in the South West beating down the door.”
Hercules shook his head. “They’re your pictures but I think you’re wasting an opportunity.”
“So be it.” Calypso reached for the computer. “Let me just email Mr Green about the cat and Cavall, and I’ll send you the files after that.”
“The mastiff.” She flicked to her image of the huge dog, sitting on a raised section of stone, like a king on his dais.
Hercules considered it. “I’ll need to think about where to put that one. He’s a bit too noble-looking for most of our lot.”
Calypso laughed. “Maybe use him for one of those motivational posters to inspire better behaviour.”
Jason rolled his eyes. “Give the gorgeous boy to Hades. You know he’ll love it, that dog is a dignified version of his three.”
Point settled, they moved on to other topics, although Calypso was sure she’d hear more about the photo of Herne in time.
The following week was hard.